In the eight months worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, the country added two million people to its group of internet subscribers, informs the telecommunications regulator.
The Nepal Telecommunications Authority says between March and November 2020, two million and 68,000 people have subscribed to new internet connections.
Before the government imposed lockdown to control the Covid-19 spread in the country in March last year, the number of internet subscribers was 21.85 million, but the figure reached 23.92 million by November, according to the authority.
Of the new subscribers, one million and 37,000 belong to the fixed-line category whereas the rest are in the mobile internet category.
Interestingly, Nepal Telecom, one of the biggest internet service providers of the country, lost around 43,000 users of its ADSL internet service in this period.
Nepal’s internet market has over 40 service providing companies, and almost all of them have added new subscribers in the significant numbers.
The total number of internet users was 19.4 million which is 65.87 percent of Nepal’s population last fiscal year and it is 22.2 million, which is 74.43 percent of the population, at the end of fiscal year 2019-20.
The total fixed broadband users wired was 13.41 percent at the end of 2018-19 and this grew to 18.35 percent of the population in fiscal year 2019-20. Similarly, mobile broadband was 51.64 percent and increased to 55.30 percent during the same period.
The report shows that the number of Nepal Telecom broadband users has increased by 1.4 million to 10 million, while Ncell broadband subscribers have declined by 58,608 to 6.7 million.
Madhav Timilsina, president of Consumer Rights Investigation Forum, said that despite the increase in consumer numbers, they are not getting quality service because of a lack of proper inspection by the Authority. “Consumers are being mostly cheated from the internet from the service sector,” he told the Post.
Timilsina said that he has been receiving more than 12 complaints through phone calls daily regarding the internet problem. The complaints are generally regarding internet service providers’ compromising in quality by not providing speed as promised, he added.
As per the internet standard bylaw, the internet bandwidth must be 75 percent of provided bandwidth by the service providers, said Aryal. If the service providers do not provide according to minimum guaranteed speed then customers can make complaints to the service providers.
Stakeholders believe the emerging trend of working from home and online classes has forced many of the customers to subscribe to the internet connection.