Nepal’s National Telecommunications Authority (NTA) has at long last cleared state-owned operator Nepal Telecom to trial 5G services in the market.
NT submitted its 5G roadmap earlier this year and was in fact ordered by the Ministry of Communications & Information Technology (MoCIT) to begin trialling 5G in four cities by mid-July 2021, but the required spectrum release was held up by the appointment of a new communications minister. Rival operator Ncell has also requested a trial licence but the NTA has not yet reached a decision on this.
According to Nepalitelecom.com, NT has now received a licence to trial services in the 2600MHz band for up to a year, using a specially allocated 60MHz spectrum holding (2500MHz-2560MHz). The operator is pushing for the NTA to confirm whether this is the same frequency that it plans to issue for commercial use, as this will impact its equipment strategy.
Xinhua News Agency quoted NT spokesman Rajesh Joshi as saying: “We’re concerned whether the NTA provides us the same frequency for commercial operation as we’re going to use for conducting trails. We have to invest in telecommunication gear for 5G testing. If we don’t get the same frequency for commercial use, our investment in gear for 5G trials will be wasted.”
The NTA has approved a 5G trial process in which operators are allocated specific frequencies without the usual fees for twelve months, on the basis that they will provide the trial service to their customers free of charge and return the spectrum to the NTA once the trial is over. Additionally, the NTA must grant approval for operators to re-use any network equipment imported for the trials.