Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Internet prices likely to go up from mid-July

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have said that the Internet prices may go up by 20 per cent from the beginning of next fiscal fiscal year 2019-20, with the government levying 13 per cent telecommunication service charge (TSC), and NEA increasing the rental fee of poles by five times.
“If the government decides to continue with 13 per cent TSC on Internet service, we will be forced to hike the internet prices from next fiscal year,” Internet Service Providers' Association Nepal (ISPAN). The association said that the government – in its ICT policy – claims to make digital Nepal and expand the access to information technology, and on the other it is levying 13 per cent TSC making the internet more costly. “The decision of the government to levy additional taxes on Internet services also contradicts with the Broadband Policy-2015, which promises to bring down the cost by 2018,” it added.
Though, the cabinet meeting last week decided to provide tax waiver to ISPs on router, installation of intranet, lease line connectivity and maintenance, asking ISPs to adjust TSC on Internet package cost, the service providers have been adamant, as they have been cheated ‘according to them’ by the government in the current fiscal year.
The dispute between the government and the ISPs over Internet prices began last year when the government took a decision to levy TSC on Internet services. After the opposition from the ISPs, the ministry officials and ISPs held a meeting that ended with an agreement to adjust TSC in Internet package cost without putting additional burden on consumers. In return, the government assured subsidies and adjustment in taxes to service providers. But the government did not fulfill its promise and continue with 13 per cent TSC in the current fiscal year too, the association said, adding that they adjusted 13 per cent TSC in their package cost last time but the government failed to walk its talk, and the ISPAN is forced to increase its price this year.
The association also said that Internet prices will go further, if Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) does not review its decision to hike rental fee of poles by five times. NEA has told the association that it will review the rental fee. The NEA has formed a committee that has representations from Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) and ISPAN to review the rental fee.

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