Nepal-China Net Highway

 

Nepal and China have finally joined the Information Highway with the operation of cross-border optical fibre link between the two countries from Friday. This has virtually ended India’s monopoly in Nepal’s Internet market, while ensuring a quality, affordable and fast cyber services to Nepali customers. Nepal Telecom (NT) and China Telecom Global launched commercial operation of the Internet services after completing the spreading of optical fiber cables between Kerung in China and Rasuwagadi in Nepal, about 50 kilometres north of Kathmandu. The Chinese optical cables got connected to the NT’s optical fibre hub at Sundhara from where the Internet services are catered to the clients across the nation. This provides a reliable alternative for the uninterrupted Internet connections. The current speed of Chinese fiber link is 1.5 Gb per second and this will be increased in the future, according to NT officials. The rugged and snowy mountains straddle the two sides of border and the digital highway has come as a viable means to overcome the gigantic geographic impediment. Realising the need to develop the Internet services for the growth of commerce and trade, the governments of two countries had reached an agreement to establish the optical fibre connectivity in 2003. They had completed installing a155-kilometre-long optical fibre from Kathmandu to Khasa along the Araniko Highway in 2006. With the country connected to the international information highways via India and China, Nepal’s prospect for economic, diplomatic and cultural interactions with the world has significantly grown.

Minister for Information and Communications Mohan BahadurBasnet has termed this a major milestone for development of the Internet infrastructure in Nepal. Chinese ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong noted that the Internet connection have brought the two nations closer, while promoting trade and commerce between them. The entrance of China’s Internet service will undoubtedly give a boost to the country’s cyber market. Currently, more than 60 per cent Nepalis have access to the Internet, which was just 19 per cent in 2012. The phenomenal rise in the number of Internet users has been attributed to declining cost of Internet services, smart mobile phones and other IT accessories in the global market. However, the Internet services are not up to mark and affordable for many people. Now the NT, the state’s monopoly, should slash the costs of Internet service and provide it in the most cost-effective way. The customers often complain of the slow services and technical glitches of the Internet provided by the NT. It is natural for the customers to expect quality services at the fair price after the NT joined competitive market of Internet in the region. Moreover, the Chinese Internet will open new vistas of bilateral cooperation and understanding. This will further cement the social and cultural relations between the two nations that have pledged to expand their trade and connectivity through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Chinese Internet can serve as the vital instrument to facilitate the infrastructure development and foreign investment in Nepal. China is already the biggest investor in Nepal and the Chinese Internet will speed up the socio-economic integration between the two neighbours and help minimise digital divide in the country.

 

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