Nepal to have its own Communication Satellite, Nepal Satellite provisioning 20 firms responds EOI

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Nepal might soon have its own communication satellite, having ITU provide free orbital slots for the satellites and EOI responded from 20 global firms. Nepal satellite might soon be provisioned if the government doesn’t delay for no reason and spend satellite launch cost of estimated 30 billion rupees (followed by additional Rs 30 billion over the next 15 years for the Nepal satellite operation and maintenance!) Nepal already have satellite footprint via DTH TV since 2010.

International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) responsible for issues that concern information and communication technologies (ICT) including the telco, had long ago issued two satellite orbital space for Nepal. The ITU coordinates the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promotes international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, works to improve telecommunication infrastructure in the developing world, and assists in the development and coordination of worldwide technical standards. So far, 58 counties have launched around 1,000 satellites in the space. Russia was the first country to launch its satellite in October 1957.

Satellite receiver antenna
Satellite receiver antenna

Nepal Satellite Detail

Two orbital slots—50 degree east and 123.3 degree east—have been allocated to Nepal by ITU since 1984. Nepal was supposed to use the slot within 2015. However, due to lack of preparation, the country did not meet the deadline, and the government has written to ITU requesting it to maintain the assigned slots (as just expected!).  500 MHz bands are available on the 123.3 degree longitude while on 50 degree longitude the satellites can have 12 different channel bands. This means two Nepal’s communication satellites will make a large bandwidth available for use.

Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA), the national regulatory authority of the telecommunications, had finally called for a global tender to procure its own communication satellite after a decade long pending work. Nepal satellite call is for two polar stall satellites. (EOI for Launching Satellite in the Orbital Positions allocated to Nepal by ITU)

And back to 2010, Nepal telecom dreamt to build world class hub station in Kathmandu with communication satellites mainly targetted for DTH operators.

Hub Antennas at Sagarmatha Earth Station, Remote Ku-band VSAT Antennas for testing
Hub Antennas at Sagarmatha Earth Station, Remote Ku-band VSAT Antennas for testing

As a trend, the priority to have Nepal’s own satellite was never on the list even though regulatory and ministry officials often talked about it. The work, however, was expedited by revising the National Broadcasting Policy during July of 2016. (Nepal to have own satellite: Minister Rai)

Responding to the expression of interest (EOI) on the global tender for Nepal satellite provisioning, 20 firms have expressed their interest in launching satellite in the orbital position of Nepal. These EOI are yet to be evaluated by NTA which will shortlist 6 companies for further detail processing. Of these 6, 3 companies will then be recommended to the Ministry of Information and Communication (MoIC). The Cabinet shall appoint one company to deploy Nepal Satellite. If everything goes as planned, the appointment will be made within a couple months.

Use of Nepal Satellite

Once the satellite provisioning company is finalized, the company shall prepare the modality of the entire satellite system, their launch, operation and maintenance of the satellites. The ministry is also devising guidelines making it mandatory for telecommunication service providers, radios and televisions to use the services of the satellites after its launch. The Nepal satellites will be used for domestic consumption, and to make the launch viable, the government must include such provisions in the guidelines (via).

With two different communication satellites and two different bands of bandwidth over multiple channels, Nepal will have a large bandwidth that can be used over multiple electro-magnetic wave involving medium. Nepal can use satellite-based Internet to reach remote areas which are currently served either by VSAT or international satellite telephony providers and other modes of communications. Satellite provisioned bandwidth can be used either internally inside the country or externally (across the continents) which can save huge cost of international bandwidth and even earn by selling the same.

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