Voice and Data has brought up two issues we have been pushing since 2008: intra-SAARC call prices and roaming prices. Our good friend Anand Raj Khanal, Secretary of the NTA, has said it is simply a matter between operators. Respectfully, we disagree. Lowering roaming charges in Nepal, when done by Nepal operators, benefits the customers of another country; it does not benefit Nepalese roaming in that country. If all the SAARC regulators agree on lowering roaming charges at the same time, this asymmetry goes away. I do not know whether all monopoly elements have been removed from Nepal’s international gateways, but unless that is done there is a need for regulatory intervention on termination prices as well.
UTL Nepal offers the minimum call rate to India. It is as low as NPR 3 on IP platform, and NPR 5 for normal calls to India. The company is banking on the fact that a large part of the Nepal’s population is working in various parts of India, as they do not require work permit. Interestingly, the international call rates from India to Nepal is around INR 10. UTL Nepal, for rest of SAARC countries offers a call rate of NPR 15 on normal calls, while on IP platform the call to Bangladesh and Pakistan is as low as NPR 8.
“We do not believe in doing business for profit only, but also for the betterment of mankind. We are offering the minimum tariff to India among all operators, and keeping our margin less. The aim is to serve all the subscribers who have relatives in India. This also helps to get better traffic than competition,” says S Kannan, CEO, UTL Telecom.
However, some of the operators charge subscribers as high as NPR 19 per minute for making any international call to any of the country during the peak hours. The tariff for the US and other countries of Asia is NPR 49 per minute.
Roaming charges in the country are quite high. Indian mobile subscribers have to pay as high as INR 55 (NPR 88) per minute to receive any calls in Nepal. Similarly, to make calls back home India, one has to shell out INR 65 per minute (NPR 104).