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Nepal Telecom puts 5G test on hold

The state-owned Nepal Telecom’s plan to launch the fifth generation (5G) trial in January has been postponed by two weeks.

The service provider said that it had to halt the trial as there were not enough mobile phones in the country that supports 5G at 2600 MHz frequency.

“We found that only a small number of mobile sets operate 5G in 2600 MHz frequency in the local market,” said Shobhan Adhikari, spokesperson of Nepal Telecom.

The company got permission to conduct a 5G trial on 2600 MHz frequency from the telecom regulator, Nepal Telecommunications Authority.

“We installed the required equipment to conduct a 5G trial according to the allocated frequency,” said Adhikari.

“Firstly, we will try to identify the number of mobile sets and other devices supporting 5G in the frequency allocated and move ahead with the trial,” he said.

It might take 2-3 weeks for this, according to the telecom.

Nepal Telecom planned to begin the trial after Tihar in November but due to the deployment of the company’s officials in the general election on November 21, it made it was delayed further.

The company had planned to conduct a 5G trial in Sundhara and Babarmahal of Kathmandu with equipment installed in those areas in the first phase, Adhikari said. Nepal Telecom will conduct trials in one location each across seven provinces. The latest household equipment like refrigerators, and washing machines, among others, also supports 5G, he said.

In September 2021, Ncell wrote to the Nepal Telecommunications Authority seeking approval for 5G network trials. The regulator replied that the Radio Frequency Policy Determination Committee would review Ncell’s 5G plan but there has been no response so far.

Ncell received approval for 4G six months after Nepal Telecom obtained permission from the authority.

The fifth-generation or 5G technology standard for cellular broadband networks offers faster connections, higher throughput and more capacity than 4G, and will benefit areas of high traffic such as public places.

Nepal Telecom received the spectrum allotment and trial permission from the regulator on November 22, 2021. It started working on the 5G trial preparation by forming a task force in mid-December.

The telecom said that it took time for the company to get the licence to import equipment for the 5G trial. It was also delayed due to the frequency allocation, the official said.

There were a total of 27.55 million 3G and 4G subscribers of Nepal Telecom, Ncell and Smart Telecom till mid-September last year, according to the latest management information system report of Nepal Telecommunications Authority.

Out of the total, Nepal Telecom has 7.13 million 3G users and 11.5 million 4G users while Ncell has 1.94 million 3G users and 6.78 million 4G users. Smart Telecom has 131,711 4G users.

Mobile broadband penetration covers 94.86 percent of the total population.

Nepal Telecom launched a 4G/LTE service in Kathmandu and Pokhara in January 2017.

The government initiated the plan to launch a 5G network under its ambitious Digital Nepal Framework 2019 covering eight sectors—digital foundation, agriculture, health, education, urban infrastructure, energy, tourism and finance. Kathmandu Post

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