Possibility of nationwide internet shutdown starting from Poush 15

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From Poush 15, the internet may be shut down across the country as the payment for bandwidth has been stopped for eight months in Kathmandu. If the amount owed to foreign companies for bandwidth remains unpaid for eight months, there is a risk that internet services will be stopped all over Nepal.

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology recommended against providing dollars to network service providers for eight months as the upstream provider has not been able to make the payment to the company. Companies such as Tata, Airtel, and Ciffi have given time until December 31st (Poush 15) to settle the dues with the upstream company.

The Nepal Telecommunication Authority and the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology have suspended their recommendation to provide foreign currency to service providers, stating that internet service providers have yet to pay their dues. There has been a dispute between the government and the service providers regarding whether to charge non-telecom charges such as support charges, maintenance charges, technical charges, and monitoring charges to the rural telecommunication fund fees and royalties.

The ministry and the authority have suspended the payment recommendation, stating that they will not provide foreign currency payment recommendations until these unpaid bills are settled. The service provider claims that the fees charged for non-telecom services are not allocated to the Rural Telecommunication Fund and royalty.

Service providers like Tata, Airtel, and Ciffi have not been able to make the payment for international bandwidth purchases when the foreign exchange recommendation is closed. These companies have written a letter to the Nepali service provider, warning them to pay immediately and stating that if they do not, they will block the bandwidth from December 31st.

Sudhir Parajuli, president of the Internet Service Providers Association of Nepal (ISPAN), stated that if these companies do not provide the bandwidth, the internet will be shut down across the country. “Companies have been unable to make payments to upstream providers due to the discontinuation of foreign exchange recommendations,” said Chairman Parajuli.

“In the letter sent by Tata and Airtel, it is stated that internal matters within the country need to be resolved, and as the payment concerns bandwidth, no excuse is acceptable. In this case, there is no option but to pay on time. Therefore, the government needs to make an immediate decision on this matter.” Despite discussions between the ministry, authorities, and service providers to resolve the issue of disputed arrears, no conclusion has been reached. The study committee formed by the Ministry of Communication showed unpaid bills in the case of nine different internet service providers.

News Source: Techpana

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