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