Ncell CEO, Pasi Kostinen spoke to Nepali Times this week about the phenomenal growth in mobile telephone penetration in Nepal in the past two years.
Pasi Kostinen: Ncell, earlier Spice Nepal Pvt Ltd, ended state monopoly of telecommunication in Nepal. It is a typical trend in low penetration countries that the customer base explodes when better quality services with affordable prices are offered nationwide. In case of Ncell, we lowered the entry barrier to service by affordable SIM card and call prices through extensive sales channel all around Nepal.
So, what next? What is your future growth strategy, are you going for geographical spread or new products and services?
Ninety per cent of the population is already covered in the country. We will now concentrate on building more capacity.
For example, how much of an emphasis are you placing on the growth of data products through 3G?
3G is certainly at the top of our agenda. We offer the fastest internet in Nepal. As of mid-October, according to statistical data issued by NTA, our share was 59 per cent of the total internet market.
A complaint one hears a lot from mobile phone users is poor connectivity. How are you trying to resolve the gateways with Nepal Telecom?
We have had a fruitful discussion with NTC resulting which, in past couple of weeks they have offered enough capacity for Ncell customers to reach their network even during peak hours. That used to be a big problem earlier. We are optimistic that the positive situation will continue.
As part of a larger international company that has a "clean company" policy, how difficult is it to do business in Nepal as a foreign investor in the current business environment?
Our values come from some of the least corrupt countries in the world such as Sweden and Finland. We have not provided anyone with any undue favors in monetary or other terms to get things done till date and the same will continue in future. We do get some requests in the countryside when building towers, but if the clean procedures are not accepted, we just back off and people will not get their connectivity. I am glad that in many cases, the people have chosen to get the tower instead.
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