The Kathmandu Post, 9th May 2017, Kathmandu
One in two Nepalis use the internet, the Management Information System (MIS) report published by the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) shows.
According to the latest numbers, there are 14.18 million internet subscribers in the country, or nearly 56 percent of the national population of 26.49 million.
The report shows that internet penetration has increased by a whopping 18.22 percent over the year ending mid-February. Almost all the growth in web connectivity has come from mobiles as more and more people are using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
The NTA data shows that state-run telecommunications service provider Nepal Telecom (NT) is the leader in the data segment, commanding a 55.38 percent market share. The company has 7.85 million data subscribers using GPRS, EDGE or WCDMA. Apart from this, NT also provides dial-up, ADSL, CDMA 1X, EVDO and WiMAX internet services.
Private service provider Ncell has 6.21 million subscribers, representing 42.05 percent of the market.
Smart Telecom, the third player, has a base of 118,772 subscribers. Likewise, there are 199,272 subscribers registered with internet service providers (ISPs) like WorldLink, Subisu and Vianet, among others. Since multiple users are known to use a single subscription on multiple devices, it is difficult to assume the precise number of internet users through the ISPs.
Telecommunications service providers say that the use of data in Nepal has been increasing constantly with more people using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and communication platforms like Viber, Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat.
While social networking sites are popular among teenagers and youths, platforms like Viber are popular among those having family members abroad.
Ncell, the largest private sector telecom service provider, stated that it posted a 2.4 percent growth in revenue in 2016, driven by a significant rise in its data receipts. The company generated Rs58.65 billion in revenue last year, up from Rs57.26 billion in 2015, according to the financial report of Ncell’s parent Axiata.
The Malaysian company has attributed the ‘strong performance’ to higher growth in data revenue. In 2016, Ncell’s data revenue surged 70.3 percent with data accounting for 15.9 percent of its total revenue.
Such strong performance has companies putting greater focus on the data segment. NT and Ncell both have been floating attracting schemes. Likewise, increased competition among service providers has helped to bring down data tariffs, making it more affordable.
To further strengthen its presence in the data segment, NT has introduced 4G service in the Kathmandu Valley and limited areas in Pokhara. Similarly, Ncell has received permission from the NTA to launch 4G service. NT has stated that as many as 550,000 subscribers have upgraded to 4G network since its launch in January.
Likewise, ISPs have been expanding their cable and fibre networks to tap into the market besides introducing value added services.