Navigating in Nepal: Using Internet in the High Mountains

01 Sagar Aryal_largeby Sagar Aryal

Nepal is still less technologically advanced due to its natural conditions and obstructions. There are high hills and rivers that make it hard to build roadways and train track, so Nepal lacks good transportation options. This results in underdeveloped education systems, health services, and telephone and internet facilities.

Electrical tower in the mountains of Nepal.

Nepal’s Geography

Nepal’s geography is divided into three regions: Himalayan region, mid-hill region and Terai region. The highest point in our country is Mt. Everest (8,848m), while the lowest point is in the Terai plains of Kechana Kalan in Jhapa (60m). Eight of the fourteen 8,000m high mountains lie in the Himalayan regions, including Mt. Everest, the highest mountain in the world. Many parts of the hilly and Terai regions are covered with high hills and forests.

The road to internet access

Today, the use of internet has become the most important tool for self-development and progress in the country. Many villages of Nepal haven’t even smelled internet facilities. Kathmandu, capital of Nepal, and a few other cities like Pokhara and Palpa, are the exception, but only Biratnagar has good access to internet. A decade ago, there was even less use of internet in Kathmandu as well. There were few ISPs (Internet Service Providers) in the nation, but they are very expensive and the majority of people can’t use it. Nepal is a poor country, and because people need computers and laptops in order to use the internet, it almost impossible for most of the people here to access it. Outside Kathmandu valley, many people don’t know what internet even means.

There are cyber cafes for those who don’t have computer and internet connections in their home. Once cyber cafes grew like a mushroom when using the internet was in fashion in Nepal. At first, rates were very expensive and later it went down little by little.  Although in 2010, less than 30 percent of Nepal's population used the internet, its use is growing rapidly. This is the result of a competitive internet service provider (ISP) market and low internet access prices. Thirty-one private ISPs offer internet access to businesses and consumers, though few, Worldlink, Websurfer and Mercantile, dominate the market with a combined share of more than 70 percent. Some of the internet services provided by different companies are shown in the table below:

Table 1:

Data and Internet Services in Nepal

NTC, NCELL, UTL and different ISP’s provide the internet facility in Nepal. People mostly use the ADSL service given by Nepal Telecom (NTC). The speed of ADSL is 192 kbps to 384 kbps for household users and 512 kbps and 1 mbps for office use. Internet connections are not as good as compared with other countries in terms of speed. Watching online videos and studying online is difficult due to slow internet connections.

Navigating online today

Nowadays, due to internet service provided by telecom companies, use of the internet has come within reach of many people of Nepal. Accessing the internet with mobiles is more common than with computer and laptops. The main reason for this is also the 12 hours of load shedding per day, which doesn’t allow people to use computers. Wireless internet from Wordlink, Broadlink, Subisu and other ISPs has also been boosted recently, allowing us to access internet from our cell phones, tablets and notepads.