Forty percent of Nepal’s population is connected to the Internet.
The latest Management Information System (MIS) report published by Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) showed Internet penetration rose 10 percent points over the last one year, covering 40.37 percent of the country’s population as of mid-March.
The report showed there are 10.69 million data subscribers across the nation. In May 2014, the figure was at 8.21 million. “Data contributes around 5 percent to the total revenue generated by Nepal Telecom, and this figure is growing by leaps and bounds each passing year,” said NT Managing Director Buddhi Prasad Acharya.
He said the company has witnessed a phenomenal growth in the number of data service users in areas where it has 3G coverage. “Even voice service users are opting for data, with rising popularity of applications like Viber and Skype, among others,” he said.
Milan Mani Sharma, communication expert at Ncell, said growing use of smartphones has played a key role in increasing the number of data users. “The more smartphone users grow, the more it will help data market boom,” he said.
Affordability is also another reason behind the growth of the data market, according to Sharma. “Ncell has slashed data tariff by 50 percent. Also, there are a number of schemes benefiting the people, encouraging them to use data within their budget,” he said. Despite a significant growth in the data sector, Ncell said voice service is still a major revenue contributor to telecom service providers.
According to the NTA report, telecom service providers command around 99 percent of the data market share, and the remaining is held by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). NT is the biggest player, with 57.31 percent market share, followed by Ncell (40.23 percent).
Remaining is shared by United Telecom Limited (UTL), Smart Telecom, Nepal Satellite Telecom and STM Telecom Sanchar.
“We have planned to strengthen the service quality to retain the top spot,” NT’s Acharya said.
The number of NT’s data subscriber reached around 6.12 million, while Ncell has around 4.3 million data users, according to the NTA report. NT’s subscriber base remained higher as it offers five different data services, while most of the other companies offer one or two. Most of the people used GPRS, EDGE and WCDMA services.
In the case of ISPs, they have only 117,194 subscribers. More than 65,000 subscribers use data under the cable modem technology, while 46,152 people use services through wireless modem optical fibre Ethernet, and 5,840 use data under dialup technology.