Internet Service Providers Association of Nepal (ISPAN) has threatened that Nepal could witness a nationwide internet shut down beginning next week over the payment issues. Likewise, the association has also decided to boycott the National ICT Day organized by the government as its conflicts with the government intensifies.
The decision comes following a meeting of the Executive Committee of ISPAN, the association of all the licensed ISPS in Nepal. It has decided not to partake in any measure in the upcoming ICT event.
Earlier, ISPAN had drawn attention to the possibility of an internet outage in India over Nepali companies’ failure to pay for bandwidth. Indian upstream providers had written a letter warning they could halt bandwidth to Nepal if they won’t receive due.
ISPAN’s warning comes amidst the same issue as Nepali internet vendors have not paid their due to Indian partners. Inability to pay comes from the government not recommending foreign currency exchanges for payment.
Won’t partake in anything that concerns the ICT Day
ISPAN stated releasing a notice, “We have decided not to engage in any program and activities relating to ICT Day celebration. We are compelled to not be an organizer, participate, sponsor, and do anything that relates to the occasion.”
ISPAN has declared it is ‘forced’ to and called it unfortunate to make such a decision.
The acrimony comes from the association’s displeasure at the government’s lack of ‘action’ in addressing the issues.
“All the government to date has only focused on irrelevant programs. They don’t play a role in creating a friendly environment for ICT in Nepal. The government has not taken the ICT Day positively”, the notice reads.
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Payment for bandwidth due for 6 months
Despite earlier warnings, Nepali ISPs have not been able to clear their due to Indian upstream providers. The payment is due for 6 months and the internet could halt in the coming days. Nepal buys internet bandwidth for Nepal from Indian companies such as Tata, and Airtel.
ISPAN alleviates that MoCIT has intentionally barred foreign currency recommendations to compromise private ISPS and shut down the internet. Pointing to the ruling by the Public Accounts Committee of the Federal Parliament that has directed the ministry to withdraw charges on support, annual maintenance, technical charges, monitoring, RTDF, and royalties from Telecommunications Act 2054, subsection 6 of section 26, the association believes the Ministry’s unfriendly demeanor is at conflict with the new provision.
Further, the notice also reminds that the Supreme Court has given an interim decision directing NTA not to seek charges from WorldLink under the above-mentioned headings in 2077-03-12.
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Internet and TV service both could witness outage
In addition, ISPAN says the effect has translated to the TV businesses too. And if the government stays firm, even TV service could come to a halt, the association fears.
ISPAN has also voiced displeasure that despite a high committee submitting its report on utility poles payment, and usage, the government has failed to implement any recommendations. This has allowed NEA to cut down fibers and issue charges to its will, it alleviates. Recently, NEA has also warned that it will cut off the power supply for dissenting ISPs.
Later, the association calls for unnecessary tax cuts. Currently, ISPs pay 45 percent of taxes to the government under several headings. Without relaxing those heavy taxes, it says realizing the digital Nepal concept will take a backseat.
“If in case, internet shuts down due to payment scruffle, the government must take all the responsibilities,” ISPAN writes.