Interview with Madhav Prasad Paudel, Minister for Information and Communications, Government of Nepal

Madhab_Paudel“The taskforce will give a detailed view about the implementation time frame and the money incurred for making Nepal, a Free Wi-Fi Zone”

What is Nepal Free Wi-Fi Zone Project all about?
We want to make Nepal, a Free Wi-Fi Zone whereby people can access Internet free of cost. Presently, Wi-Fi Zone is very limited and is available in airports, hospitals, universities and hotels. A taskforce has been formed under the leadership of Mahesh Prasad Adhikari, member, Nepal Telecommunications Authority to look into technical, financial, commercial and economical viability of Free Wi-Fi in Nepal.

The taskforce will give a detail view about the implementation timeframe and the money incurred for making Nepal, a Free Wi-Fi Zone. The taskforce has to study and submit its report in 30 days time and the government will then decide how to make Nepal a free Wi-Fi Zone.

Name the members who are in Free Wi-Fi Zone task force?
The taskforce has been formed under the leadership of Mahesh Prasad Adhikari, member, Nepal Telecommunications Authority and has one member from ministry of information and communications, ministry of science & technology, prime minister’s office and others. There are a total of seven members in Nepal Free Wi-Fi Zone taskforce.

What was the reason for Nepal Free Wi-Fi Zone idea?
There are lot of reasons behind it. First, there is lot of optical fiber within highways and roads and this can be utilized to provide free Wi-Fi service to airports, hospitals, universities, ministries and community schools. Second, ministry of education has been allocated one billion NPR (Nepalese Rupiah) for providing ICT based education to 7,359 community schools. All this will help us in making Nepal, a Free Wi-Fi Zone.

The right to information to Nepalese citizen is inserted in the constitution of Nepal. To ensure right to citizen, one has to ensure access to information and access to information cannot be ensured unless one has a free Wi-Fi.

What would be the total investment for Nepal Free Wi-Fi Zone Project? Where do you plan to get the funds for the project? 
We have not calculated the amount but we can mobilize funds from Rural Telecommunications Fund once the task force submit its report. Even service providers can provide this service from their corporate social responsibility fund. So, all this will help in giving a big boost to the project.

How are you planning to move w.r.t. Nepal Free Wi-Fi Zone?
It will be phase wise. Initially, it will be in large cities but later it will cover the whole of country as Free Wi-Fi Zone.

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