National Dialogue on Broadband Connectivity Challenges and Opportunities in Nepal

Internet Society Nepal Chapter organized a “National Dialog on Broadband Connectivity Challenges and Opportunities in Nepal” on June 23rd, 2017 (Ashad 9, 2074) at Hotel Yellow Pagoda, Kantipath, Kathmandu with the objective of exploring the opportunities to access of broadband connectivity for e-enables services and debate on challenges to reach broadband connectivity for policy lobby for internet for all in Nepal.

With a total participation of slightly over 50 people from service providers (ISP Association of Nepal, Nepal Telecomm, NCell), Service Regulator (Nepal Telecom Authority, Ministry of Information and Communications, Ministry of Science & Technology and other government agency), User Groups (Government, End user communities, academic institutions), Multi Stakeholder Group (ISOC Members, Journalists, Techno-communities) and Law Enforcement Agency, the program was moderated by Babu Ram Aryal, Immediate Past President of ISOC Nepal Chapter and as the CEO of Picosoft P Ltd, a rural ISP I also got the opportunity to speak on the various challenges of ensuring that digital divide is converted to digital dividends to ensure the people living in poverty at the bottom of the economic pyramid also gets connected so that they do not have to have information poverty and mainly highlighted these 6 challenges that was being faced by the rural community of Nepal:

  • Cash/Computers
  • Coordination
  • Capacity Development
  • Care and Management
  • Connectivity
  • Content

Picosoft provides the fastest high-speed Internet service in rural areas where cable and ADSL Internet are not available options through Super Wi-Fi ( TV White Space) technology. Microsoft thru its Affordable Access Initiative and through UK Aid’s Frontier Technology Livestreaming initiative is supporting this to connect rural Nepal.

I started my talk on how I had started trying to find solutions to these challenges by removing the language barrier with the local language computing ensuring that Windows operating system was localized in Nepali language. This removed the problem of the last meter from the screen to the human brain so that more people were able to take the benefit of technology.

From 2007 I started working with the tele center movement, the purpose was to provide access to technology at the rural community level. Which moved unto to ensure that the rural schools have computer labs and thru the initiative of Edunet where 125 rural schools have received computer lab donations with 2 servers, 20 computers and 2 UPSes.

To ensure that rural school educators are able to build their capacity a suitcase full of tablet laptops are taken from village to village ensuring delivery of digital literacy course and how to start to use ICT in education.

The challenge we faced was how to effectively implement the delivery of the course contents using technology in the classroom. BernHardt MTI School was chosen as the showcase school to ensure that this private school and all the educators in this school can provide their expertise to the rural schools to ensure that children are learning in a fun manner using technology and not by memorization.

In a country where 50% of the population is young and below 25, with Internet penetration at 58%, it is also important to make internet accessible for the rural population and meet UN Broadband Commission Broadband Target of entry-level broadband services priced at less than 5% of average monthly income. However currently it is at 17.8% of GNI (US$ 8  – Fixed broadband) in Nepal placing it in 133rd among 168 measured by ITU and 27th in the Asia Pacific. In the developed world 1.7% of monthly income is only spent for basic broadband internet.