Telcom authority to shut down cross-connection with UTL
KATHMANDU, August 1: Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) has asked all the telecom operators to shut down their interconnections with the United Telecom Limited (UTL) with immediate effect because UTL has been refusing to clear its outstanding dues to the government.
The NTA issued the instruction to all the telecos through a formal letter on Tuesday. The UTL has around Rs 1 billion to settle to the NTA says the telecom sector regulator.
As interconnection allow subscribers to call from one operator to another, shutting it down will prevent UTL customers from making or receiving calls to and from other operators.
The NTA on Monday had also sent the letter to UTL reinstructing it to shut down its basic services which includes wireless fixed line, lease line, STD and ILD gateway. The authority had issued similar instruction earlier this year which however, was not implemented due to its the lack of coordination with Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC).
“If it continues to defy instructions, NTA has the authority to scrap UTL´s operating licenses of all services,” an NTA official said.
Under the licensing condition the operator is required to pay 4 percent of its total revenue or its committed royalty or which ever is higher.
According to the official, UTL has so far paid only four percent of its revenue and the amount was not sufficient to clear the royalty as per the requirement. “After deducting royalty received in the form of four percent of its revenue, the company still has to pay more than Rs 900 million to the government to clear its royalty liability,” the official added.
UTL was established in 2002 and the royalty worth Rs 190 million was written off in 2006.
The operator has meanwhile claimed compensation charging the government of not following its commitment to the operator while awarding the license.
NTA Chairman Kanel resigns
Chairman of Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) Bhesh Raj Kanel has resigned from his post citing increasing government interference in the autonomy of the telecommunications regulator. Kanel, who still had one and half year of his five year tenure left, submitted his resignation to the government through Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) and will be effective from Wednesday.
Kanel, in his resignation letter has stated that he was compelled to resign after the ministry didn´t respond to NTA´s repeated calls in reformation and amendment of Telecommunications Act 1997. His main objection was on the government´s fifth amendment of Nepal Telecommunications Regulation 1998. After the amendment, NTA can only implement its annual budget and program after concurrence with MoIC.
Likewise, the amendment also asks the authority to seek permission from the ministry for perks and benefits of NTA members. “There was no point to continue working when the ministry is not listening to the authority´s suggestion,” he said.