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Nepal to get internet connection from China ending India’s monopoly

LiveMint logoLiveMint 13-07-2017 Shirish B Pradhan

Kathmandu/Beijing: Nepal is likely to get internet connection through Chinese optical fiber from next month, ending India’s monopoly over the online services in the landlocked Himalayan country.

Nepal has relied on India for internet services for long as the country is optically connected with the southern neighbour through Bhairahawa, Birgunj and Biratnagar. However, the connection with China will end the monopoly of India in supply of internet bandwidth.

The long-awaited internet connection from China is expected to be completed by the end of July as the work of laying optical fiber on the Chinese side has resumed.

Nepal has already completed the task of laying optical fiber on its side for the connection. The task of laying optical fiber was about to be completed in early June. But it could not take place after an avalanche disrupted the work on the Chinese side, an official said.

“Connection test was already conducted. Nepal would have already been connected with Chinese internet if the work was not halted in June,” the official at the Nepal Telecom said.

Shobhan Adhikari, deputy spokesperson for the Nepal Telecom, said that the local government of China had suspended the work of laying optical fiber after a worker collapsed due to high attitude sickness. Now the work has already resumed.

“The work has resumed in full pace since the last week and if things go as per the plan, Nepal will be connected with the Chinese internet from the beginning of August,” he added.

Adhikari said that after the disruption of work by avalanche at the altitude of 4,000 meters on the Chinese side, the optical fiber was laid through an alternative route.

“According to the Chinese company, the new route is almost 20 kilometers longer. The sudden change in the plan has delayed the project by almost a month,” he added.

Once the work to lay optical fiber is completed on the Chinese side, Nepal will test the connection and subsequently work on purchasing Internet bandwidth from the northern neighbour, Adhikari said.

“With Chinese companies entering the Nepali market, users here will be able to enjoy internet at lower rates,” he said.

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Meanwhile, China’s state-run Global Times on Thursday said the Chinese internet services will be available from 1 August in Nepal, “ending India’s bandwidth supply monopoly in the country.”

This is set to be a great boon to the South Asian nation, which is still rebuilding its shattered economy and infrastructure after a devastating earthquake in 2015, the paper said.

While the report sought to project Indian internet services in poor light saying that they are erratic, it was silent whether Chinese internet services will be provided without the internet firewalls which restricts the free flow of online information specially anything related to China as popular social media like Twitter, Facebook and Google.

The restrictive controls of the Chinese internet forced users especially foreigners residing in China to use the VPNs (virtual private networks) to circumvent the firewalls.

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China is making a concerted push into Nepal to blunt India’s “monopoly” in the landlocked nation. It worked out a transit treaty with Nepal during the tenure of pro-China former Nepal prime minister K P Sharma Oli in last August and even agreed to build a rail link through Tibet.

But the process of Chinese push into Nepal slowed down under the tenure of Prachanda who recently abdicated power allowing Sher Bahadur Deuba to take over as prime minister.

While expanding its influence with massive investments, China is also enforcing strong curbs over the movement of Tibetans through Nepal specially to travel to Dharamsala to meet the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama. PTI

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