Sharma urges govt to roll back its decision to hike rental charges of utility poles

KATHMANDU: Federation of Nepal Cable Television Entrepreneurs President Dhruba Sharma urged the government to roll back its decision to jack up rental charges of utility poles.

He said that though the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) had been charging Rs250 per pole till 2018, the state-owned power utility all of a sudden decided to hike the rental charges by 350 percent.

Sharma said that the cable companies will be compelled to pull down their shutters if the government did not backtrack from its decision.

It is impossible to provide TV and internet services without using the poles of Nepal Electricity Authority. Cable companies have been saying that the decision to hike the rental charges will not only cut the lines of TV and internet services but also deprive the people of their right to information.

“We will be left with no option but to hike the charges if the Nepal Electricity Authority jack up the rental charges of utility poles,” an entrepreneur said, adding, “The decision will hit the consumers hard.”

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On the other hand, if the cable companies cut the cable lines, people will be deprived of their right to information. The companies have been charging Rs 300 to Rs 400 per house monthly for the service.

“The government has been showing generosity to the OTT and IPTVs which do not pay tax to the government by being harsh to the entrepreneurs who have regularly been paying tax to the government,” Sharma said.

Meanwhile, Nepal Electricity Authority Managing Director Kul Man Ghising, however, said that authority has just revised the rentals of the utility poles.

“There is no basis to say that the authority has hiked the rental charges of utility poles by 350 percent. We had been charging less in the past. There was no rate. Now, we have fixed the rate,” Ghising said.

Sudhir Parajuli, president of the Internet Service Providers’ Association Nepal, said that the internet charges will be increased if the government hiked the rental charges of utility poles.

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