NAMASTE Nepal: Review of Nepal Telecom’s Unified Communication System
Nepal Telecom (NT) is finally testing its 900 million rupees Unified Communications System (UCS) “Namaste Nepal“. Initially advertised as a Facebook like social networking site and named “NT Chautari” is now in a much more revived version. Namaste Nepal is currently in testing phase and just ready for lunch after this – we just covered the beta published of their
social network unified communication system here: http://techsansar.com/computing/nepal-telecom-social-network-namaste-nepal/.
Maybe it is too early to review Namaste Nepal, but it is good to learn about their system, good to explore how much 90 crore rupees worth of
social network unified communication system from the country’s leading telco provider has to offer for its one million plus users. While we covered, Social Networking website “NT Chautari” is almost ready for launch late this February, we explored the depth of Nepal Telecom’s attention for its own social networking solution – back in 2010 Chautari – Facebook like Social Networking website from Nepal Telecom. We have a good statistcs of both the telecom users and Internet users from the company to come up with a tentative analysis of stability and necessity of Namaste Nepal.
What is in Namaste Nepal?
Obviously, just Not yet another social site, but in terms of NT itself, Namaste Nepal is a complete Unified Communication System (UCS) that aims at connecting and providing various services to the customers of Nepal Telecom – further extending to everybody beyond their customers.
Namaste Nepal has some basic and other advanced features, trying to amalgam them into a more or less unified system – where in users can sense it as a social network to connect with other social networks with additional features. In brief, let’s see what Namaste Nepal’s features offer its customers:
- lets you update your status like in almost all social network (text based statues updates limited to 200 characters – no fancy in here – just simple text with no tagging, no emoticons, no geolocation information and others),
- lets you blog post into a group blog where your each posts are published in the public area of the site demanding interaction,
- lets you surf and upload videos with the public (registered users of Namaste Nepal) or your connected friends or private. Videos play faster than in Facebook if you are on NTC network and surfing Namaste Nepal but video resolutions not specified, however, YouTube videos can be embedded onto the Namaste Nepal,
- lets you browse and upload photos, create albums, traditional slideshows for media files are enabled by default for albums, media files can be downloaded easily with dedicated download button,
- lets you send WebSMS to people for free. Before sending any SMS from Namaste Nepal, you need to add the contacts as there is no dedicated Send SMS button but selecting contacts lets you send SMS option. As usual SMS limited to 160 characters. We tried sending SMS to both the mobile phone network users (NT and Ncell) but were never successful, WebSMS was never delivered, maybe they are trying to integrate the existing Nepal Telecom WebSMS onto this Namaste Nepal UCS.
- lets you make VoIP calls with Click to Call feature. This is however so far limited to user configuration, maybe still under development feature. User can enter their SIP address, UDP based domain and authorization access to make phone calls. Click to call has local video and remote video option – based on which we can speculate that this will support a kind of video conferencing or Google+’s hangout like feature. (Till now, this feature looks scary to regular users!)
- lets you explore timeline of your current social networks like Facebook, GooglePlus and LinkedIn directly from the dashboard of Namaste Nepal. After authorizing your Facebook, GooglePlus and LinkedIn profiles to Namaste Nepal, you can post your status directly to these social networks, and comment on your friend’s statuses.
One very important feature we noticed, Facebook videos played so fast inside Namaste Nepal dashboard – maybe NTC cached those videos on their UCS Server once pull onto the system by users. Downloading of such Facebook videos is just a click away here. BTW, don’t get surprised on how UCS pulls and connects your pre-existing social networks – authentication process might show some different app name other than Namaste Nepal (for example: KathmanduNepal is the app that requests your access of Facebook which is somehow odd.)
Tools that allows you to control and configure personal settings lets you authorize to connect to your existing Facebook (UCS_Facebook), Google Account (UCS_GoogleContact), Google Plus (UCS_Google Plus), Microsoft Account Hotmail (UCS_Hotmail), LinkedIn Profile (UCS_LinkedIn), and Yahoo account (UCS_Yahoo). Users have the access to authorize and revoke access for each of these third party websites directly via Tools section in Namaste Nepal dashboard.
- lets you create groups and discuss this feature tries to imitate Google Groups but lacking largely at useful collaborative features of why the group is needed. You can join the popular or latest discussion publicly or privately besides creating your own Discussion group.
Each group have ability to enable or disable features like group membership permission as always, group activities, group blog, group discussion, group photo albums, group questions, surveys and even group specific videos. These features are surely useful and even unique to Facebook (considering group questions, surveys, and blogs.)
- lets you read live news from the system pulling feeds of popular news website, as of now users of Namaste Nepal can read live news from BBC Nepali website. NT is likely to come up with more user-enabled settings for their preferred news feeds in this section.
- lets user asks questions in public with starting and question expiring date resembling to Quora – but yet limited to tags, question and details – exposure can be registered or private users.
- lets you use RSS feeds from external or 3rd party app/websites pretty much what Google Reader was doing. Many geeks might find this feature useful to keep track of their most visited blogs and news portals. However, it lacks tagging and read later feature but good enough to stay notified of the favorite weblogs. Click “Add feed” on the right sidebar to add your own weblog feed or any news website’s feed.
- lets you take part in surveys or create your own survey. Users can create their own survey and have response choices (which is just the difference from Ask Questions section) tagging each and having expiring date. Or you can participate in public surveys.
- lets you subscribe for the event based services – mainly SMS broadcast service. Services come with rate plans and effective dates, and SMS broadcast can be purchased at price specified. This feature is currently under development and we are yet to see what Even based SMS Broadcast service in Namaste Nepal has to offer for users.
Why Namaste Nepal?
Many of us are concerned with the same question – why yet another Nepali social networking site? Well, more than just a social networking site, Namaste Nepal UCS tries to handle internet traffic scenario of Nepal. This could best be learnt when Nepal Telecom release their press release for this service.
Like in Facebook, Namaste Nepal carries dedicated buttons for inbox, friend request, notifications (activity status); apart from popular services surveys, public blog posting, WebSMS and Click to Call (VoIP) feature might give it an attention. However, what makes Nepal Telecom spent 90 crore (900 million) rupees for Namaste Nepal?
On a rough estimate, total Facebook users in Nepal (3.5 million) makes almost 110% of the Internet population, and total Internet penetration of 30% in the country has been on increasing trend since years. This gives an insight on always increasing Internet traffic in the country – maybe Nepal Telecom wants to check on that traffic spent by 3.5 million users in the Facebook (also should be noted that not all traffic passes thru NT!)
Convergence, a sort of, Nepal Telecom wants to provide users of, with inbound VoIP services and WebSMS. Plus the business, we already saw the subscription based services in the dashboard of Namaste Nepal. Whatever the plans of Nepal Telecom be, users should be benefited at-large.
Limitations of Namaste Nepal UCS
As we already stated that Namaste Nepal UCS has not been yet released for public and the company is constantly developing and improving it, there are many rooms for the growth. However, some of the immediate issues we encountered as significant to UCS users are (limitations of Namaste Nepal as of now!):
- No way to import existing contacts, friend lists (this feature highly missed in WebSMS section) – a simple workout can be carried from My Contact section which is hidden under the More drop down menu (this should have been the first step after a new user is created.)
- Pictures can’t be uploaded without creating albums, and they can’t be assigned as status.
- Users will miss backward button (go back to -1 or -2 history items) too often, as many of the services have no go to previous menu option.
- No secure login or website surfing available. We didn’t find any SSL certificates or https assigned links to UCS.
- Website is not responsive design nor carries web apps. Dragging horizontal bar to see all section of the website is disrespecting web design standard in 2014.
- Developed in Elgg social network framework, UCS has lot of design issues which makes the system unresponsive and too bulky. A home page averaging of the size of at least an Megabyte.
- Lack of user documentation or help and support section. A guided tour would have been a perfect solution for new users.
Whatever it looks like for now, Namaste Nepal is still not ready for public use, yet you can give it a try. Let’s evaluate how much worth is 90 crore rupees in the unified communication system as such has to give to us. Lastly, since the service is not in public, we couldn’t rate it like we used to with previous reviews.Sign up for Namaste Nepal UCS here.