Internet History in Nepal: From the Beginning to Today

Post by Nissan Sapkota

Introduction:

Internet

Internet is the world’s largest network, originated out of a US department of defense funded project. It is a unique collection of systems with vast proportions of its kind. It is the network of networks expanding daily. The Internet has evolved into one of the technology’s greatest democracies, permitting the passage of all types of information exchange with full freedom. The first result of the project funded by the US defense department for a fault-tolerant networking system is ARPANET(Advanced Research Projects Agency of the United States ‘ Department of Defence), which became the largest, the most potent aid, definitely the most influential aid, definitely the most uncontrollable force in the world.

Later in 1983 A.D, (ARPANET) split into the MILNET (for military network), which served the defense community, and the ARPANET, which helped the research and education community. It became the network of networks globally expanded and growing day by day to the immense size of its growth. Away from the global scale, we have included the history of internet in Nepal in this post.

Beginning of Internet in Nepal

Internet History in Nepal
Internet History in Nepal

Around 106 years ago ( from 2019), the telephone line was commercialized in Nepal in 1913 A.D. From 1914 A.D, long-distance calling started in Nepal. In 1982 A.D, satellite earth station was kept, and direct International phone calls were possible for the first time. Around the same year in 1883 A.D, ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency of the United States’ Department of Defence) adopted TCP/IP on January 1, 1983 A.D. Later it was transformed into the network of networks globally. Internet was introduced globally in 1990 by Tim Berners-Lee when he invented WWW (World Wide Web). Around 24 years ago in 1994 A.D, the Internet was customary in Nepal. Around the same year, commercial E-mail service was started in Nepal by Mercantile. However, later in 1995 A.D, private operators were used and the Internet was launched in Nepal. Mercantile is one of the first companies to bring forward the Internet in Nepal. The most popular ISP of Nepal, i.e. worldlink was also established in 1995 A.D. They started giving Internet Service through Dial-up connection.

internet history in nepal
Image Source: US Robotics

The Dial-Up Internet Phase in Nepal

The picture above shows a Dial-up Internet connection. The internet history in Nepal is incomplete without the days of Dial-Up connection and the memories of weird sounds made by the modem. Probably, all of us 90’s people remember using it. It used to make such a large noise that there wasn’t any chance of using the Internet in secrecy. This device had a maximum speed of only 56 Kilo Bit per second. Yes, only 56KB/S. The maximum download Speed was 7KB/S. Moreover, this Internet had a per-minute telephone charge, and if someone calls you or you call them, the Internet would get disconnected. When we think about it today, it sounds to be irritating, but that was the way it was back then.

Introduction of ISPs and Mobile Phones in Nepal

In 1999 A.D, mobile phones were introduced in Nepal for the first time but there wasn’t any internet service in the mobile. It was the scenario of only 20 years ago which shows the revolution of the Internet in Nepal. From 2003 A.D, Worldlink started its wireless internet service which had a speed of almost 256 KB/S. It is considered a milestone for private sector in internet history in Nepal.

Also Read: Best Internet Service Providers in Nepal

Later on, in (2004-2005)A.D, cable internet was introduced in Nepal and SUBISU was the first company to start this service. It changed the landscape of the Internet in Nepal. Especially in the city areas, people began using this cable Internet because it was affordable compared to the Dial-up connection service. At that period, apps like MSN messenger, HI-5, and Yahoo messenger were gradually getting popular in Nepal. There was a key reason behind the popularity of this cable Internet, both the Television channel and Internet service were available through the same connection. Though the trend of the Internet was increasing only in the city area, there was no chance of Internet service in the village areas of Nepal.

So, here comes the renowned personality Mr. Mahabir Pun. Probably everyone knows him through his great efforts in the field of the Internet Revolution in Nepal. After his studies he started a ‘Nepal wireless Networking’ project in 2002 A.D. He went to different rural places of Nepal establishing Internet connectivity.

internet history in nepal
Mr. Mahabir Pun

Till 2006 A.D, Mahabir Pun had installed wireless internet in 13 districts of the mountainous region of Nepal. Till 2019 A.D, he has been successful in establishing wireless connectivity Internet in 175 villages of 15 districts of Nepal. According to NTA (National Telecommunication Authority), till 2006, A.D only 1% of the total population was using the Internet, the remaining had no idea about what is the Internet. According to Census 2011 A.D, 9% of the total population of Nepal is accessible to Internet Service.

The Dawn of Mobile Internet

The Gamechanger of internet access in Nepal was ‘Mero Mobile’; now ‘NCELL.’ So, when NCELL and NTC started GPRS, 3G and CRBT service, the number of Internet users began increasing in Nepal. Along with the entry of GRPS service, many messaging apps also entered in Nepal. Example: Mig 33, MSN messenger, yahoo messenger. Later on, in 2008 A.D, ADSL service was introduced in Nepal. Then, the trend of cyber was rapidly increasing at that time. We could see the cybers opening everywhere. Around that period, people also started using long-distance communication services. In 2011 A.D, Nepal created an optical link with the help of china through Nepal Telecom via Tatopani border. However, it was never used.

Since 2011 A.D, the GPRS (2G) service was advanced to 3G service, which eventually increased the speed of the Internet. In the same year, Vianet started Fiber optic Internet in Nepal. Since then, the number of Internet users had risen in a vast amount. From 2017 A.D 4G service was also introduced in Nepal. According to Census 2011 A.D, 9% of the total population of Nepal had access to Internet Service. But according to NTA (2017 A.D report), 16.67 Million people have Internet access in Nepal; which is around 63% of the total population. However, fast Internet service is only with less number of people. The majority of the rural areas of Nepal are still using 2G service (GPRS). According to the data of NTA, since last year, on average, 250 people are being added to the list of Internet accessed users every hour.

internet history in nepal
Nepal internet users (Source: World Bank)

Almost 54 % of the market is sheltered by NTC, about 43% by NCELL, whereas smart cell has only a few numbers of users and is gradually increasing. There are at least 23 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Nepal. The most popular ISP in Nepal is Worldlink. WorldLink has more than 170000 users around the nation.

Epilogue

We can see that internet history in Nepal is short but a lot has happened in this short period. The growth in technologies has been massive in a very short period of time. Also, access to the internet has been growing rapidly among common people. This is helpful on a national scale that helps to bind all the people together. But along with the growth in technology, it is necessary for the government to pay attention to this sector about its possibilities and the challenges. Formulation of policies and implementation of security methods are required for the smooth functioning of this side of society,