Tuesday, January 21, 2014

ICT and the Rural Nepal

“Baburam ji, lets incorporate an idea, write an article/paper and recommend the government to implement this idea…”, Kailash Prasad Neupane, Deputy Director (Legal), just gave me attention from my nearby cabin at Nepal Telecommunications Authority, while I was still at NTA acting as an Asst. Director. During the moment, when I already informed NTA to switch my job.

“Sure Kailash sir, let me know what to incorporate in our paper/article that shall knock our government.”   I replied.

Nepal Telecom has already lunched WiMAX services throughout the country. Before this the ADSL services were reached to all VDC level, which was set as policy by the government enforcing NT and subsidizing it for those services to make it available to rural areas of Nepal. Till this period, more than 5-billion Rupees was already in stock of NTA behind the revenue collected on behalf of Rural Telecommunications Disbursement Fund (RTDF), 4% of operator’s income. Mean while, I saw the information on Nepalese news media about the initiation taken by Ministry of Education regarding “Connect School, Connect Community” project with the main objective to provide ICT services to communities and public schools of rural areas of Nepal targeting farmers, students, community personnel and school teachers to be more aware of ICT and focus of economic growth. Our Dy-Director’s concept was “lets propose for Rural Nepal Wi-Fi free one” utilizing the RTDF to kick-tart the project and propose for way for self sustainability. Let us analyze first which one broadband technology (ADSL, wireless Zone, WiMAX, GPRS….) would best suit for least cost better service into rural areas. We kept in mind that there is Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and targets of WSIS (world summit on information society), those we can achieve only if Nepal addresses those rural areas by providing ICT connectivity and its services.

Concept was quite appreciable, however there are lots of challenging with rural people and the main thing is
that Nepal has just 27% internet penetration rate. it not increasing in the rate as expected. Anyway, let us analyze, how could we achieve this?, how much does it cost for this project initiation? I started drafting the idea.

Infrastructure deployment in the rural areas of Nepal is quite challenging. ISPs are not interested to expand their network into rural areas. Even telecom operators are not interested to provide telecom services to remote and hilly areas of Nepal. it is supposed to be costly from the business perspectives. Almost 90% ISPs are confined to Kathmandu valley and major urban cities of Nepal.  Ultimately the WiMAX service of NT converts the dream into realities. Individual family of rural Nepal can now have ICT accessibility if government wants to really deploy ICT throughout Nepal. Until and unless special policy has not been enforced by the government for private operator’s network to be expanded to rural areas, ISPs and Telcos would have business only in Kathmandu valley. Hence, I drafted one article (http://www.baburd.com.np/papers/ICT-RuralNepal.pdf) and knocked our Dy-Director KP Neupane to finalize it.   Unfortunately, it has not been completed yet due to boss’s busy schedule.
News on Republica about government initiation for Country Wi-Fi free zone

Currently, watching news on TVs and newspaper media regarding the government decision to carryout study to make Nepal “WiFi free zone”, makes me really happy. The government and NTA have also realized for it and initiate for the possibility. Based on the news, it covers whole Nepal into WiFi free zone; however my request to the government focuses only to the rural areas first. Let us bridge the digital gab between rural and urban areas of Nepal, then think for whole Nepal.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome !!!
    Hats off Dwadi sir, for such an innovative idea and for your initiation to upgrade ICT sector of our motherland....
    Thanks for such praiseworthy move and keep it on...