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Nepali regulator revokes Ncell’s 4G green light

Nepali regulator revokes Ncell’s 4G green light

The Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) has rescinded operator Ncell’s permission to deploy 4G services after a parliamentary committee ordered it to block the launch.

The operator, which is Nepal’s second largest operator with a 46% market share, received a licence in May that allowed it to begin offering services from 1st June. However, regulator NTA had been advised by the Public Accounts Committee not to grant the licence until payment of all taxes related to Axiata’s acquisition of Telia’s stake in Ncell had been received.

NTA chairman Digambar Jha stated: “I can assure that the NTA will abide by the directive issued by the house committee.”

Telia – then TeliaSonera – agreed to sell its Ncell stake to Axiata in April 2016, with the Nepali government stipulating that 25% of the profit from this sale should be deposited as capital gains tax. However, Ncell has currently only deposited 15%, amounting to NPR9.97 billion ($95 million). The issue is under investigation by Nepal’s tax office and is expected to be resolved soon.

In October 2016, state-owned Nepal Telecom became the country’s first operator to receive clearance to launch a 4G network via the 1.8GHz band. In May this year, number three Smart Telecom was also granted approval to offer LTE services through its existing 1.8GHz network, with services scheduled to commence on 30th July.

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