“Pur­chas­ing power and price elas­tic­ity are the road­blocks in Nepal”

Voice&Data - - SAARC INTERVIEW - Akanksha Singh

WPasi Koisti­nen is the Pres­i­dent and CEO of Ncell, which be­came the largest tele­com op­er­a­tor in Nepal some months back over­tak­ing the state-owned Nepal Tele­com. The com­pany reached the fig­ure of six mil­lion cus­tomers re­cently. Ncell, the first pri­vate tele­com op­er­a­tor of Nepal was re­branded to its cur­rent name in 2010. Koisti­nen joined Telia­son­era as a Di­rec­tor in 1998 and took up the po­si­tion of Ncell CEO in May 2009. He has also served in top man­age­rial level in di­verse fields like hos­pi­tal­ity busi­ness, ad­ver­tis­ing agen­cies and tele­com ser­vice in coun­tries like Fin­land, Sin­ga­pore and China. In an in­ter­view with VOICE&DATA, Koisti­nen shares his views on Ncell’s growth, Nepal’s telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion mar­ket and a whole lot of other is­sues. Ex­cerpts:

hat have been your ma­jor achieve­ments?

We es­tab­lished the new Ncell brand af­ter a suc­cess­ful change from Mero Mo­bile in March 2010. Un­doubt­edly, this was a dras­tic makeover and one of the big­gest turn­ing point for our com­pany. Last fis­cal we also launched 3G ser­vices and Ncell Con­nect in Nepal, which we con­sider the big­gest achieve­ments of our com­pany. We also be­came the big­gest ISP in a year in Nepal and the mar­ket leader in GSM on March 2011.

How many 3G sub­scribers have you added?

By the end of Q3FY11, we re­ported 30,000 plus 3G sub­scribers in Nepal.

Pres­i­dent and CEO, Ncell

What have been the ma­jor chal­lenges for your com­pany as an op­er­a­tor to in­crease broad­band pen­e­tra­tion and what is be­ing done to im­prove the con­di­tions?

As an op­er­a­tor in Nepal, over the years the ma­jor chal­lenge re­mains the pur­chas­ing power and price elas­tic­ity. This is the big­gest road­block for the op­er­a­tors in Nepal to de­velop the right ecosys­tem for broad­band pen­e­tra­tion as well. Other sec­ondary chal­lenge re­mains cam­paigns and ex­per­i­ments. Although ma­jor part of Nepal is ru­ral and ter­rain, yet

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not much is be­ing done till date for cus­tomer ed­u­ca­tion.

What ini­tia­tives are be­ing un­der­taken by your com­pany to in­crease the ex­panse of mo­bile broad­band in Nepal?

In Nepal, mo­bile bo­rad­band pen­e­tra­tion has hap­pened at a very small scale. We at our level has in­creased the 3G cov­er­age and took care that Ncell is the fastest in­ter­net in Nepal for our cus­tomers.

What ac­cord­ing to you will help build the right mo­bile broad­band ecosys­tem?

I think qual­ity of ser­vice (QOS) needs to be im­proved by all the op­er­a­tors in Nepal. Be­cause of geo­graph­i­cal con­di­tions the in­fras­truc­tural con­straints have al­ways hin­dered broad­band growth. Easy ac­cess with MB pack­ages and don­gles can and will im­prove the present con­di­tions.

De­spite wit­ness­ing barely 0.3% fixed broad­band pen­e­tra­tion, Nepal has the sec­ond high­est fixed broad­band prices af­ter Bangladesh. What is the rea­son for this?

I think there are 2 ma­jor fac­tors lead­ing to this—in­fra­struc­ture costs are very high and few play­ers op­er­at­ing in this seg­ment have ob­vi­ously cre­ated mo­nop­oly pric­ing lead­ing to a very min­i­mal or next to stag­nant growth. An­other ma­jor fac­tor is poor qual­ity for price. Qual­ity of ser­vice has suf­fered for long time in Nepal, which needs to be im­proved im­me­di­ately to turn the ta­bles around.


—Pasi Koisti­nen,

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