The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has initiated a probe into a complaint of irregularities in the tender process that Nepal Telecom (NTC) had announced to expand its 4G service.
Why it matters:
- NTC 4G network is available in Kathmandu and Pokhara at the moment and NTC has plans to extend the services throughout the country. This investigation will put a pause to the progress of the project.
- NTC has called three separate tenders to implement its plans of expanding 4G services throughout the country.
- First two on November 8 for installing infrastructure such as BTS towers and another on November 3 last year to install the core network to facilitate 4G transmission.
- According to the company, it is evaluating bids from China’s ZTE and the China Comservice International for the first and second installation tenders.
- On the other hand, ZTE and a Singapore-based company are contending for core network installation.
- NTC has not formally awarded any contract based on the bids, however, a complaint was registered on January 21, about selecting the China Comservice.
- According to the complaint, “Usually the quoted amount remains 40-50 percent below the estimated cost but the amount quoted by China Comservice is 25 percent lower than the estimates.”
- It also claims that NTC should not install a 4G network as the world has moved towards 5G, arguing that the telecom service provider is wasting resources by opting for 4G.
- The complaint calls for a technical investigation in consultation with foreign experts.
What they are saying:
- “We have started an initial investigation after the complaint was registered,” said CIAA Spokesperson Padam Prasad Pandey. “We’ll decide whether to go for a detailed probe after studying the seriousness of the complaint.”
- An NTC official suspected that the complaint might have been registered to stop NTC from expanding its 4G service and to benefit its rivals.
- “Usually, complaints are registered with the anti-graft body whenever we seek to introduce new technology,” the official remarked.