In a shameful act today, Nepal Telecom, a government entity, couldn’t provide mobile phones as per the demand and halted the distribution of SIM cards indefinitely
If there is any name that represents the incompetence, pessimism and failure in a grand scale in the Nepali corporate sector, it’s undoubtedly Sugatratna Kansakar. It’s a shame that this man is the Managing Director of Nepal Telecom (NT), the country’s telecommunication giant, even after today’s artless drama performed on the streets of Kathmandu and in front of the NT offices. As many as two hundred fifty thousand people stood in the queues leading up to the Nepal Telecom counters in the city hoping to get prepaid SIM cards for the mobile phone. Telecom distributed slightly more than 60 thousand cards amidst chaos and poorly managed system. Such was the customer pressure that NT had to postpone the SIM card distribution abruptly and indefinitely. And here comes the incompetence and failure of Sugatratna Kansakar. He and his company knew that there were hundreds of thousands of people eagerly and tirelessly waiting for SIM cards. NT had refused to distribute the cards despite heavy demands citing, mainly, inadequate infrastructure. Over the several months, we have been told, NT improved and expanded the infrastructure to cater the ever-growing demand of cell phone lines. Today we saw how much improvement Kansakar did in Nepal Telecom.
Yes, everyone in Kathmandu wants to own a mobile phone and many of them are capable of doing so. This is an international phenomena that demands for cell phone is increasing in a staggering manner. Look at our neighboring countries: China and Indian. They are world’s leaders in adding Mobile phone subscribers. Nepal is not behind at least in cell phone. Unfortunately, there is no supply as per the demand.
In the mean time, NT introduced another mobile service, based on CDMA technology, called Sky Phone. This phone didn’t get the desired success among the young customers primarily for four reasons:
1. No roaming: The Sky phone brought in Kathmandu doesn’t work outside the Valley.
2. No SMS: The Sky phone doesn’t support the SMS, a popular service among youth who the majority of pre-paid mobile phones, to NT’s GSM network.
3. No balance transfer: The Sky phone doesn’t let the users transfer balance money like it lets in GSM prepaid network.
4. No choice on set: Until recently, there was no choice for the users of Sky phone to have the set of their desire and the one that NT came as defaults is horrible.
[An obvious question would be: what about Mero Mobile of Spice Cells? That’s hell lot of expensive and is like pouring water in sand. Because all landlines belong to NT that also operates more than a million cell phones, NT is in advantage. NT to Mero Mobile or vice versa is expensive compared to NT to NT. Same with another private sector operator ULT. I prefer NT to these two companies and always encourage people to take NT than the other two. But NT never listens to its customers.]
My brother, a Sky phone user, always complains about the quality of the set and says he misses sending SMS to the larger network of GMS pre- and post-paid mobile phones. For all those reasons Sky phone couldn’t become popular among the youths and working class people.
It is a disappointing fact that Nepal Telecom has traditionally failed to provide phone lines as per the demands. There are tens of thousands of people still waiting for the landlines. We can understand that expanding landline or the basic phone lines is difficult compared to the mobile service. But Nepal Telecom only talked, it never acted. This company is one of the few Nepali government-owned companies that are enjoying healthy profit and there is immense possibility of its business expansion. Don’t misunderstand that the profit is because of the efficiency maintained by the NT staffs. IT’S NOT. It’s because it’s easy for NT, unlike Nepal Electricity Authority, to collect the tariff and there is hardly any chance to have revenue leakage (except in international calls that are made through the Internet which, given the worldwide development on that front, shouldn’t be considered a leakage but the regulation problem.) Even with so much possibility of business expansion without any risk, NT is not doing what it should be doing.
This is all because of the mindset of the folks like Kansakar who are more into having job and getting perks and grand salaries than doing the business.