From left, Nepal Telecom Managing Director Kamini Rajbhandari, Nepal Tourism Board Chairman Kedar Bahadur Adhikari, Minister for Information and Communications Mohan Bahadur Basnet, Ambassador of China to Nepal Yu Hong, Nepal Telecom Chief Digambar Jha and China Telecom Global representative Wang Yong Lein attend an event held to announce the opening of a cross-border optical fiber link between Nepal Telecom and China Telecom Global coming in Bhadrakali, Kathmandu on Friday. Photo: Dipendra Rokka
KATHMANDU, Jan 13: The commercial operation of an optical fiber link between China and Nepal has formally begun, paving way for supply of internet bandwidth via Jilong gateway near Kerung along the Nepal-China border. Minister for Information and Communications, Mohan Bahadur Basnet, inaugurated the cross-border fiber link amid a ceremony held in the capital on Friday.
With the cross-border fiber link between Nepal Telecom (NT) and China Telecom Global Ltd coming into operation, Nepal can now get bandwidth internet from its both neighbors. The operationalization of cross-border optical fiber link also breaks the Indian monopoly in providing internet access to Nepal. Nepal has relied on Indian Internet so far. The country has optical fiber link with the southern neighbor through Bhairahawa, Birgunj and Biratnagar.
According to NT officials, Nepal will receive Chinese broadband at the speed of 1.5 gigabits per second per second (gbps) in the initial phase compared to 25 gbps from India now. However, NT officials say that the speed and volume of the broadband supplied from Chinese side will be gradually increased.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, Minister Basnet termed the cross-border optical fiber ‘a milestone’ for Nepal toward developing nationwide infrastructure for the internet and connectivity.
He said that the optical fiber link will further deepen the cooperation between the two countries.
Chinese ambassador to Nepal, Yu Hong, said that the optical fiber link project has not only provided Nepal a shorter route for the supply of internet bandwidth, but also brought the two countries together to exploit business potential. Stating that China was the second biggest trading partner for Nepal, she said that this linkage would further deepen the economic ties between the two countries.
Kamini Rajbhandari, Nepal Telecom’s managing director, said that the reliability and availability of the services of Nepal Telecom would be enhanced through optical linkage with China.
According to NT officials, once the country is connected to Internet bandwidth of the northern neighbor, users will be able to use uninterrupted Internet services even when connection with Indian side is disrupted due to any reason. The connection with China is likely to provide various alternatives for users as NT can purchase bandwidth from different Chinese companies.
According to the state-owned telecom operator, Nepali users will not face any problems in using Google and other social networks because the company is planning to purchase bandwidth from Hong Kong.
The commercial operation of optical fiber link has materialized nearly 15 years after starting preparation to diversify the route of broadband internet supply. While Nepal signed an economic and technical agreement with its northern neighbor in 2003 to lay down optical fiber from Kathmandu to Khasa, the work related to laying down 155-km long optical fiber began only in 2008.
Earlier in December last year, China Telecom Global Ltd (CTG) and Nepal Telecom reached an agreement to deliver Internet Protocol services in Nepal through a newly-launched terrestrial cable route connecting China and Nepal via the Jilong gateway.