Eighteen different companies are currently providing Internet services to their clients in Nepal. This goes as per the open door policy of the government to allow the private sector in telecommunications services. It is generally expected that involvement of the private sector will bring about a desirable environment of fair competition and benefit the customers. But ironically, the opposite happens in Nepal. Private business entities have proved themselves as trouble makers in Nepal, necessitating the government to intervene and impose restrictive measures. Otherwise, people in general become victims of profiteers.
At a time when the government has slashed the Internet service charge by 30 per cent, the private sector Internet service providers are reported to have been overcharging their clients. They have done this in violation of the laws regulating telecommunication services. The private sector Net service providers have an opportunity to compete with the government owned Nepal Telecom and earn the trust and goodwill of the customers. But that is not happening. They are known to have slapped exorbitant and unfair charges by inventing fabricated titles.
First, the service providers try to lure the people through false advertising of low tariffs. And when the prospective customers are finally baited through false promises, they start overcharging them on the pretext of one and other titles. The additional bills come to the subscribers under the titles like service charge, technical charge, repairing and maintenance charge and networking charge. Some of them have even exploited the unsuspecting clients under Sahayata Sulka or sssistance charge. This is like seeking donations in the garb of service provider. This is a mixed bag of false ad, forced donation and unethical baiting of customers.
One may wonder how such an unfair business sustains and fosters in this country. This is a hangover of extortion culture propounded by our political parties. And it sustains and spreads its tentacles under the muscle power of syndication. There is an unhealthy bond of like-minded businessmen who form a syndicate to eliminate a climate of fair competition. If one tries to provide the service in a reduced rate, he will be threatened with life, and eventually eliminated. In such a scenario, competitive market, fair trade and corporate social responsibility are a far cry. This type of ugly networking is prevalent in every sector of business and trade. They were talking of eliminating it in the transport sector but the success of the move is still in doubt.
Nepal Telecommunications Authority governs the operation of all telecom services in the country. Checking the irregularities mentioned above is under the responsibility of the authority. The authority should take the media reports regarding the extorting practices of the Internet service providers seriously and take stringent actions against the culprits. Unethical practices have thrived due to negligent attitude of the authority to conduct monitoring and enforce regulations. Bowing down before the power of business syndicates is not tolerable.