As part of its disaster preparedness plan, Ncell has said that it will spend Rs 2 billion to build earthquake-proof data center and to procure necessary equipment.
Speaking at a press meet in Kathmandu on Wednesday, Ncell CEO Erim Taylanlar said that they have already allocated Rs 2 billion in this year’s budget to build earthquake-proof data center in Kathmandu.
Ncell is currently operating earthquake-proof data center in Pokhara and Hetauda.
The private GSM operator also said it would make additional investment in mobile BTS to solve the existing problems in its network. “Mobile BTS can be carried easily through air transport even if roads are blocked. They are very useful to resume emergency telecommunications service in areas where BTS is damaged,” said Taylanlar.
He requested the government to ease administrative procedures to facilitate telcos for importing required telecommunications equipment during disasters. “How fast the network functions determines how effective rescue and relief work can be made and how many lives we can save,” Taylanlar said, adding: “It is sad that our equipment, which are being imported to resume telecommunications service in affected areas, have been stuck in customs offices.”
Clearing confusion about the Red Cross logo found in Ncell consignment, Xu Lei, CEO of ZTE Nepal, which supplied the consignment, said the logo was mistakenly used instead of normal logo to represent the urgency of recovery equipment to use urgent airline services and send the equipment during crisis.
Meanwhile, Ncell said it has provided bonus balance and free SMS worth Rs 1.59 billion to subscribers in earthquake-hit areas over the 10 days since the earthquake of April 25. The private GSM operator said it was yet to study the cost of bonus balance and free SMS that they provided to subscribers in affected areas from the 11th day till date.
Ncell had provided Rs 30 as bonus balance for subscribers having less than Rs 10 talk time and 50 free SMS to all its customers for 10 days. After that it has been providing the facility to subscribers in 12 affected districts till date. Ncell officials say the facility will continue for few more days.
Ncell has expressed commitment to provide Rs 1 billion for relief works. Similarly, its parent company Teliasonera has pledged to provide Rs 100 million.
Ncell CEO Taylanlar said they have already informed Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) about their commitment to support. “We have not yet decided where the amount will be used,” he said, adding, “We will discuss with national and international experts and have a long-term vision to utilize the amount,” said Taylanlar.
Staff members of Teliasonera have contributed Rs 3.5 million and Telisaonera will add the same amount and handover Rs 7 million to Red Cross Sweden for relief works in Nepal, according to a statement issued by Ncell.
“As per our commitment to reconstruction and the bonus balance and free SMS provided, we have supported more than Rs 3 billion for Nepal,” said Taylanlar.
Before Tuesday’s earthquake, 90 percent of Ncell’s BTS were working in Kathmandu and 70 percent in other affected areas. “There has been some problem in the network from Tuesday in some areas of Kathmandu, Dolakha and Sindhupalchowk but we have started using mobile BTS and generator to resume the service as early as possible,” he added.
Ncell has been requesting for technology neutrality since more than a year to use e-band and for capacity management of network. “It is easy to resume network with the use of new technology and hence we have been requesting Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) for the same. But we have not got positive response,” said Taylanlar.
Taylanlar said technology neutrality will help Ncell to expand data service in rural areas. “We can provide 3G service in all districts within three months if we are allowed to use e-band,” he added.
Ncell is currently providing 3G service in 36 districts.