Technology has evolved exponentially over the past two decades. All the incredible tech innovations have made it hard to recall life 20 years ago. Today, it is difficult to imagine our lives without the internet which was rare for commoners in the early 2000s in Nepal.
Maanika, my 6-year-old niece, who is used to sleek modern-day smartphones, tablets, and PCs, got all curious when she saw a CRT monitor on a storage corner at my place. When I told her that it was a computer, she looked puzzled. Little did she know that the bulky PC tower was as slick as computers could get when we were kids.
Technology has evolved exponentially over the past two decades. All the incredible tech innovations have made it hard to recall life 20 years ago. Today, it is difficult to imagine our lives without the internet which was rare for commoners in the early 2000s in Nepal. The way we consumed media was entirely different back then. Cable TV and radio were dominant. We used to watch movies through DVDs, and the only way to listen to songs was by tuning in to specific TV channels and radio. Computers with CRT monitors were around, and mobile phones were sparse.
The launch of Global Systems for Mobile Communications (GSM) prepaid service in 2003 and CDMA services a couple of years later made mobile phones gradually accessible to people. Worldlink then started its wireless internet service which had a speed of almost 256 KBps. Later in 2004/05, the internet landscape changed in Nepal after SUBISU introduced cable internet. People chose cable internet over the Dial-Up Connection Service, as both TV channels and Internet service were available through the same connection. NCELL, then Mero Mobile, can be considered a game-changer regarding internet access in Nepal. Later in 2008, ADSL service was introduced which took the internet to people’s homes. With the internet trend in urban areas increasing, apps like MSN messenger, Hi5, and Yahoo messenger gradually gained popularity.
When 2G service advanced to 3G service in 2011, the speed of the internet increased. Internet provider company called Vianet introduced Fiber Optic in the same year. In 2017, the 4G service was also introduced in Nepal. According to Census 2011 A.D., 9% of the total population of Nepal had access to Internet Services. But according to a report published by Nepal Telecommunications (NTA) in 2017, 16.67 million people had internet access in Nepal, which is around 63% of the total population. And according to the NTA 2021 report, 27.37 million people, which is 91% of the total population, have access to the internet. And as per the statistics, most people access the internet on their mobile phones. Mobile internet users comprised 65.68 percent of the total internet user population till June 2021. More than 12.05 million people have access to the 3G internet service. Of them, 9.590 million people are using the 3G internet service of Nepal Telecom, which is the most significant number, and 2.46 million people are using the internet service of Ncell.
Not long ago, people used to stand in queue for hours to fill up forms or trade shares. With the rise in internet accessibility, most government services have shifted into digital systems. E-Gov projects like e-tax, online company registration, e-procurement, electronic employee management system, Machine Readable Passport, and e-passport have been successful. Beyond these projects, there are many successful small-level e-Gov applications in local government. Even NEPSE is fully automated.
The financial sector has been full-on revolutionised. Since digitisation offers many opportunities in driving financial inclusion, the government has been taking measures towards achieving this. Although internet banking was introduced in 2002 by Kumari Bank, it took a long time for digital banking technology to be adopted widely. Today, online payment has become the go-to method for many people. Especially post COVID-19, there has been a boom in the e-banking sector.
Likewise, e-Commerce has changed the business scenario in Nepal. Be it Instagram or Facebook or TikTok, or a website, your business almost doesn't exist if you aren't online these days. Besides, the face of marketing has completely changed with the growing popularity of social sites. Digital marketing has become vital to any business.
Online food delivery has been growing lately through companies like Foodmandu and BhojDeals. Online ride-sharing platforms such as Tootle, Sahara, and Pathao are all the rage. The effective service reach to the public has made these platforms immensely popular.
IT has become an inevitable need in all spheres of human life and Nepal has been gradually catching up, although slow compared to most of the world. We have come a long way in technology, from cheques to ATMs and digital wallets and from cyber hubs to personal workstations. The advances in technology spawning every next moment are tremendous. It is almost impossible to imagine what the face of the world in the next 20 years will be. Let's stay optimistic that Nepal elevates beyond and ascends in the tech world.