Thursday, February 08, 2007

NepalTelecom to bring Video-calling services

Believe it or not, Live Video calling through a cellular mobile will soon be possible in Nepal, thanks to third generation (3G) mobile phone technology that is expected to bring in a new revolution in Nepali telecommunication sector.

The state-owned telecom service provider--Nepal Telecom(NT)- is all set to launcha the 3G GSM mobile phone services as it already has received a green signal from the regulatory body - Nepal Telecom Authority (NTA).

If everything goes as per the plan, Nepal will be the first country in South Asia to introduce this latest service of GSM cellular mobile phone technology. An interesting fact to note is that Nepal is using the Chinese technology, whereas China has yet to operate 3G mobile phone services.



NTA has approved the tariff plan for 3G GSM mobile phone services, which NT officials expect to ring within a couple of weeks. According to NTA sources, the connection charge for new service is fixed at Rs 1,135, equal to a charge for connection of pre-paid mobile phone service.

The live video calling will costs Rs 10 per minute, whereas voice-call charge is as currently is charged for pre-paid cellular mobile phone. It means a phone call per minute will cost Rs. 3.5 during peak hour and Rs 2.5 during the off hour. The data and video clipping transfer rate for the 3G mobile is fixed at Rs. 0.02 per KB.

However, the regulatory body has given permission for 3G operations for the six months period only in the beginning, citing the lack of proper law to regulate the new service. Sources at NTA say that amendment of Telecom Act-2053 and Telecom Regulations is underway, which will accommodate the provisions for the new services including 3G operations.

Surendra Prasad Thike, spokes person at NT, confirmed that the tariff plan for 3G services has been approved. " If everything goes as per our plan, the new service will be availale soon. NT has already conducted technical testing."

According to him, 3G customers will require a new set compatibile for live video calling and video clip transferring. The current market price for a 3G handset is Rs 15,000 onwards in the domestic market.

"The 3G operations will have a separate switching and network for video calling, which NT has already set up in the core area of Kathmandu, " said Thike, adding that 3G users can make phone calls like any other GSM mobile phones.

OF the two cellular mobile phone service providers in the country, NT is the largest and fully state-owned.

The number of cellular mobile phone users is expected to have crossed one million throughout the country at present. As of the end of December 2006, there were 961,639 mobile phone users.

The telecom giant NT has recently announced the launch of new valued added services like GPRS, MMS and CRBT for its GSM mobile phone users.

by Indra Gurung

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