Net neutrality in Nepal

The ISP (Internet Service Provider) in Nepal is increasing numerously in some couple of years. Currently, there are altogether forty-five registered and operating ISP all over Nepal as per recent data shows by Nepal Telecom Authority (NTA). This numbers expected to grow more in coming years. ISP help customers to access the internet very conveniently. The internet we use everyday is accessed through ISP. So, they play the vigorous role in our day to day life. But we may not aware of the net neutrality that Nepalese ISP follows.

Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality or known as ‘Network Neutrality’ is the big talk issues in the IT industry and we heard often about it. Net neutrality is the principle that any individuals should be free to access all content, application, and method of communication without any discrimination. Every website or content you visit and view all over the internet should treat equally. Your ISP should provide the same bandwidth whichever website you visit. Either you visit facebook, twitter, Netflix etc. or any local website like, they all should be lawful content on the internet equally, without giving any treatment to certain sites or services. No, any ISP has any right to slow down and track user communicating visiting packets or the website as per their benefits.

In February 2017, Ncell in Nepal violated the net neutrality just providing free Facebook to their users. It’s because Ncell promoting the facebook at the cost of other social sites. But this case was solved and it’s no more now. Similarly, Wikipedia and Twitter were free on Ncell for a long time but providing Wikipedia free is somehow good because it’s decent sources of information where every people can easily access the information of their choices. It also gives people a platform to contribute as one of the robust repositories of knowledge. Today’s there are more than 200 websites (including government and public information sites) are free to browse from any NTC internets services. In such cases, net neutrality won’t exist. They are concerned with day to day public life and right to information (RTI).

Moreover, we often heard about the different offers by operators like Nepal Telecom (NTC) or Ncell introducing ‘Facebook Data Pack’ or ‘YouTube’ pack and other ISPs like Worldlink, Vianet, Subisu etc can charge as much as they choose from data. This means telecom operators are violating the ‘Net Neutrality’ concept where they treat browsing of those sites and other sites differently. They bias the customers like us into two segments; one who choose internet pack versus one who doesn’t, those who don’t take any internet packs must pay more for using those sites.

Neutrality and NTA

Currently, NTA drafting a regulation for ‘Net Neutrality’ which is very slow in process. NTA thinks it’s not an urgent issue because very few people are only aware of it. Nepal as emerging marketplace and could be next IT hub in future. Now, many struggle start-ups are facing problems day by day and forced to pay for “faster bandwidth” internet for unknowingly. A couple of years back in India, access to Flipkart was free on Airtel Network, and obviously, people prefer the free things. Which tremendously effects other e-commerce sites a lot. It’s true to expect such kinds of things in near future if we failed to practice the neutrality concept. This could bring direct impact on the small business categories.

Now, the governing bodies and NTA must think on such issues very neutrally. It’s generic to adopt the things suddenly in the country like Nepal, it takes time to regulate the internet ecosystem. Government and NTA should open the common ground to solve down those issues and regulate the framework. At least government must be aware of the Internet governance, policy and stopped the trend renewing the policy only after consequence.

Today’s many countries in the world respect and support the net neutrality concept. Including US, India, Netherland, Singapore etc. They regulate very strict laws to enforcement to protect consumer rights. Everyone has right to access internet without any circumstances. Same here, in Nepal majorly, public or bunch of ITs Think Tank should raise the voices in this regard to expect the free net neutrality nation. Every voice is very crucial to saving the internet and internet for all.

Once, the father of Internet Sir Tim Berners Lee had clearly mentioned “Maintaining net neutrality is for the future of the web and future of human rights, innovation and progress.”

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