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Internet outage in Nepal over payment dispute with Indian firms

Hindutva-Rising threat to secular Nepal

KATHMANDU: Internet providers in Nepal cautioned that the Himalayan republic is faced with widespread outages. They raised alarm bells on Friday over overdue payments to Indian enterprises, a day after service disruptions affected the daily lives of millions of people.

Numerous private internet companies witnessed their customers being ‘forced offline’ on Thursday night, when their upstream partners in neighboring India severed connections. According to the Internet Service Providers Association of Nepal (ISPAN), non-payment of dues was the reason behind the outage.

Data from internet outage monitor, ‘Netblocks’ depicted that 18 internet providers (based in Nepal) had their bandwidth severely curtailed or cut in entirety during the five-hour outage.

“It may happen again. It is not in our hands,” ISPAN chief executive Suvash Khadka told members of the press. “Internet is a vital service and the government needs to respond.”

Broadband providers owe about three billion Nepali rupees ($22.5 million) to Indian vendors but have failed to transfer the money, as of yet.

Nepal’s government has refused to give the necessary approval to transfer the funds out of the country, stating that the internet providers must first clear their outstanding taxes (a dispute that dates back years).

Private internet enterprises are of the view that the legal framework governing their businesses, exempts them from the said taxes.

Nepal has more than 10 million subscribers to private internet companies, according to a report last year by the Nepal Telecommunications Authority.

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