The Kathmandu Post,Sanjeev Giri,18th March, 2017, Kathmandu
Nepali people may seem like a docile lot based on the data provided by Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA), where only 22 formal complaints were filed against the regulator of telecom service in the fiscal year 2015-16 but on social media, it’s the wild west of complaints.
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are being flooded by Nepali consumers complaining about number of issues regarding telecom service in the country. From poor network coverage to billing issues, consumers have no problems complaining about NTA’s dismal services.
According to the NTA data the country has 30.3 million subscribers of voice service and 13.8 million data subscribers as of mid-December 2016. So it seems amusing that only 22 formal complaints were made. Even though there is an official platform created by the Prime Minister’s office called, “Hello Sarkar”, to allow the public to file complaints, only 25 complaints have been filed so far. That’s a total of 47 official complaints for NTA out of 30.3 million subscribers.
The lack of complaints are due to people showing apathy towards complaining as they believe that even if you do make a complaint, NTA will just ignore it. There is also a general lack of awareness about outlets for consumers to file complaints.
“This shows Nepalese do not have habit of complaining,” Purshottam Khanal, director of NTA said adding that the number of complaints aren’t up to mark following the lack of awareness among the people regarding the role and responsibility of NTA. “We have been working hard to raise awareness where NTA is open to public queries and all complaints will be looked at.”
To raise awareness and get Nepali people engaged, NTA has developed a mobile phone application that is available on Android phones. Anyone can download the app and send complaints to the NTA via the app.
Even though the NTA has prepared a Quality Assurance bylaw to penalize service providers that provide lacklustre services, it has yet to reach the Ministry of Information and Communications for further proceeding. The bylaw has a provision of slapping fines of up to Rs 10 million if a service provider fails to improve service with the first three months from the data of NTAs notification. If the service provider fails to improve service within six months, the fines will be inflated, up to Rs 50 million. Failing that, fines imposed will reach an eye-watering Rs 100 million.
“The draft is in the final stage of being sent to the ministry,” Khanal said adding that the ministry will then take it to the parliament for a formal ratification.
Telecom service providers accept that the tendency of filing complaints in the sector is not up to the mark. “We have been doing our best to mitigate several issues related to telecommunications service,” Shobhan Adhikari, joint spokesperson at Nepal Telecom, the largest telecom service provider of the country said, adding that the company has implemented a customer care unit to connect with the consumers to resolve their issues.