Friday, August 18, 2006

Nepal Wireless

House committee directs govt. to let people freely use the WiFi bands

After a two hours discussion at the Development Committee of the House of Representatives on Thursday, the committee has issued directives to Ministry of Information & Communications (MOIC) and Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) to de-license the Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) bands using 2.4 Ghz and 5.8 Ghz frequencies.

Moreover, the committee gave instruction to clarify policies in order to make computer to computer 'Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)' legal.

At the start of the meeting, Mahabir Pun, team leader, Nepal Wireless Networking Project, gave detailed presentation about the accomplishments of the project to the members of parliamentary committee, and officials present in the meeting. He made clear that restrictions on the use of equipment using those frequencies were the major obstacle for the advancement of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Nepal.

Minister of State for Information and Communications, Dilendra Badu, admitted that the issue was new to him and that he would try his best to implement the recommendations made by the committee.

Chairman of the NTA, a regulatory body, Suresh Kumar Pudasaini, said the Authority had already sent its opinion on the opening up of ISM band frequency for general use to the ministry, but the ministry was yet to make any decision. He further added that he has been constrained by his own board's inaction and indecisiveness on the issues related to VoIP. He said he had already taken the issue to the board thrice in a row and blamed his board members for not enacting a decision on it. Pudasaini said while he had the right to issue any form of license and set tariff, on even simple issues related to communications with different ministries of Nepal Government, he had to route it via a junior officer at the MOIC. "If such a situation persists, it would be better to turn the NTA into a department under the ministry," he fumed.

A UML lawmaker and former minister, Raghuji Pant, shared his experience how bureaucrats tried to mislead ministers most often by giving false interpretation of legal and technical issues.

It was revealed that the decision on Frequency was under the domain of a committee formed under the chairmanship of the Minister of Communication with the Secretaries of Home, Communications, Defense, Tourism as well as chairman of the NTA. On this point, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee, Tanka Rai, asked since all members of the frequency committee were present at the meeting, if there were any objections from them. All the concerned Secretaries said they had no objections, on which Chairman Rai gave direct instructions to the Minister to publish the necessary directive on the Gazzette and bring an end to the matter.

Chairman Rai further said that there should not be any hindrances in the development of ICT sector and everyone should work towards rapid development of such technologies in the country.

Talking to Nepalnews, IT consultant and journalist Gaurav Upadhyay said that making accessible the WiFi bands or ISM band would help make wireless networking in rural parts of the country possible and provide communication facilities there.

He added that if these frequencies were not allowed for use to the public, there is no possibility of benefiting from the latest development in ICT, adding these bands were allowed for public worldwide.

“If we do not allow such bands for public use, we will be lag behind in ITC,” he said. pb Aug 18 06


Nepal to de-license WiFi soon

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