ISPAN Press Conference against Hike of Pole and OPGW Fiber Rent from Nepal Electricity Authority.

Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has decided to cut off the wires of cable TV and Internet service providers for failing to pay the dues for using the infrastructure of the authority. The Internet and cable television service providers have decided not to pay the fee claiming that the state-run utility has been charging exorbitant fee since the start of the current fiscal year which is against the spirit of the agreement reached with the government.

The service providers said they have not signed any new agreement with the NEA so they should be charged the same old price for using NEA’s poles and fibres. NEA had revised the charges in July last year after amending the regulation regarding optical fiber cable service 2073. Previously, the NEA had been charging the ISPs on the basis of the number of poles used by the service providers. But now, the authority has decided to charge the service providers on the basis of the thickness and length of the fibres installed in its transmission poles.

According to the new provision, the companies should pay Rs 300 per kilometer for the extension of their TV and Internet lines through 33 KV transmission line poles of the NEA. In January, the Internet Service Providers’ Association of Nepal (ISPAN) had expressed serious concerns regarding the NEA’s unrealistic and exorbitant hike in the fees it had been charging the Internet service providers (ISP) for using the NEA’s poles and fibres.

Issuing a statement, ISPAN had said that the state-run utility hiked the fees more than 500 percent since the beginning of the current fiscal year. “We Internet service providers have been serving our customers across the country in an easy and acccessible way at affordable rates using the poles and fibres of the NEA,” said the statement, adding, “But lately, we are in great dilemma as the rates we have been charging to our customers are based on the old rate charged by the NEA.” ISPAN argued that the NEA’s decision would adversely affect the National Broadband Policy, which envisages providing Internet service at more affordable rates.

As per the policy, ISPs had reached an understanding with the government to internally adjust the 13 percent communication service charge imposed by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in order to avoid increasing Internet charge. During the agreement, the government had complied with the ISP’s request that none of the government bodies would act in any way that would result in hike in the Internet charge, the statement said.