Nepal is uniquely situated between India in the south and China in the north. Being landlocked, the landscape is quite distinct with a beautiful mixture of plains, hills and the mountains. With a total area of more than 91,661 miles and a population of 30 million, it is bigger than 100 other countries.
The economy of Nepal runs mostly based on agriculture, which employs 60% of the population but contributes just 25% of its GDP. With a total GDP of $36 billion and just a GDP per capita under $1300, it is still an underdeveloped country.
Konnect Nepal Networks hopes to make a small impact to reduce the outbound manpower and over-reliance on remittance by delivering broadband in the most remote parts of Nepal. Konnect Nepal Networks is one of the leading private internet service providers (ISP) in Nepal reaching 40 districts out of 77 in the country. The company has a particular focus on the rural sectors where fixed line connections are difficult to reach.
Acting as an Internet aggregator, we enable local entrepreneurs to start their own home-grown networks in their villages and suburban cities all over the country, and we cover as many as 1,000 villages out of a total of 6,743 all across the country.
Over 24 million people out of 30 million in Nepal have access to the Internet as of 2021. Out of these, 11 million of the population has access to the internet via 3G, and the number of 4G users has reached more than 7 million. The contribution of fixed broadband is 18% with 5 million FTTH internet users over fiber cables.
Nepal gets connected to the Internet via overhead fiber optic cables from India. The current international bandwidth capacity of Nepal is estimated to be 800 gbps.
Nepal has one of the harshest terrains in the world which makes getting fiber optical connectivity a big challenge. The challenge comes especially getting fiber connectivity to the hills and mountain regions. It has to be noted that over 95% of all fiber connections are overhead or aerial in Nepal. This means that fiber optic cables are tied overhead on utility poles all across the country.
Overhead fiber comes both with its share of advantages and disadvantages. The advantages being that it is cheap and quick to deploy. The disadvantages being that overhead fiber is prone to be damaged from natural calamities such as strong winds and is easily disrupted due to environmental factors.
Underground fiber is a remote possibility in Nepal where it is deployed only in a few areas in selected urban cities. The burden of cost and the infrastructure required to deploy underground fiber makes it currently impossible to be deployed in rural Nepal. Therefore, we have to run aerial fiber cables in many cities, towns and villages, making it a challenging task to keep the network stable and running.
To minimize the downtime and the risks of fiber getting damaged, we use a few unique techniques in Nepal. We use aluminum wires and PVC coated binding wires to tie the fiber cables to utility poles. These support wires will hold the fiber cables tightly to the poles making them less likely to be dragged down.
Unfortunately, because the overhead cables are tied to poles, the poles can easily be knocked down by vehicles or even human errors making the cables unusable. To repair these damaged cables, a dedicated team has to be on standby 24-7 increasing the manpower costs.
In this article, we focus on our journey to connect a remote village named Kalitar of Rong Rural Municipality. This village is located in the eastern district called Ilam. Konnect Nepal partnered with Mr. John Tamang, a local entrepreneur, to deliver internet in the borders of Jhapa and Ilam districts.
However, delivering fiber connectivity to this village proved to be a difficult challenge. There were two major hurdles:
1.Lack of utility poles
2.A small hill in between the central POP and the village
All fiber cables and equipment had to be carried manually by hand up the hill. It took half a dozen workers to transport the equipment to the top of the hill. After the arduous work of transporting the fiber cables up on the hill, we faced another daunting task. There were no utility poles to tie and connect the fiber cables.
We had to rely on a large tree acting as a repeater to get the trunk link to the village. It took a single technician to carefully and skillfully climb the tree with the fiber cable. Once he was toward the top, the fiber cable had to be tied to the strongest branch of the tree. Finally, they completed the task and connectivity to Kalitar village became a possibility.
Along the Biring River touching Jhapa and Ilam districts, the only internet connectivity in the village is limited 2G/3G services, which are quite expensive. It took an entire week to lay the cables from the central POP to reach Kalitar village. Once the fiber network reached the village, the villagers experienced high speed broadband for the first time. Without worrying about the cost, video lagging or buffering, they can now use the internet for education, video calls, Zoom classes, entertainment, etc. Konnect Nepal delivers broadband to consumer homes throughout Nepal at a relatively economical prices ranging from $7 to $40 per month. The speeds range from 10 mbps up to 100 mbps. Internet is essential in today’s world and will possibly fall under the same category as shelter, water, food, education and electricity.
We hope that the fiber internet installed in Kalitar village will open more opportunities to the local villagers and empower them to make the right decisions. A 2012 study by the World Bank showed that in developed countries like the U.S., every time broadband penetration rises 10%, GDP rises 1.19%. In developing nations, the increase in GDP is even more at 1.35%.
It is in this regard that Konnect Nepal believes that the growth in connectivity will directly be proportional to the economic growth in Nepal. Being a landlocked country, Nepal has limited access to the rest of the world via roads and seas. Konnect Nepal is working to make fiber connectivity possible in many different villages across Nepal.