When it started operations 17 years ago, WorldLink was run from a single room. Today, it is the largest private Internet Service Provider in the country. Nepali Times spoke to chairman Dileep Agrawal about how far the IT sector has progressed in the last two decades and the challenges ahead.
Dileep Agrawal: Not only have IT businesses mushroomed in the last two decades, but we have been able to reach the homes of millions of ordinary Nepalis and increase their access to high-end technology. Most urban families in Nepal have at least one computer and increasing numbers are connected to the Internet through their mobile phones or through cable. The younger generation in particular is very hooked. You can see them surfing the net while on a microbus. However, due to the government's outdated policies, we have not been able to bring in latest technologies like WiMax.
How do you compare your company's performance within and outside the Valley?
Although Kathmandu is our primary market, our services are available in 58 districts. We have also teamed up with Mahabir Pun to come up with ways to expand our services to rural areas. In Dadeldhura and parts of Eastern Nepal, our wifi-based services
are really popular.
What kind of policies should the government introduce to ensure the IT sector's growth?
Firstly, the state must update existing infrastructure so that they meet international standards, and bridge the gap between us and rest of the world. Also, instead of viewing private companies as a threat, the government should create a level playing field for everyone.
What special services can patrons look forward to as part of your 17th anniversary celebrations?
We are extending our monsoon package, and offering two months worth of extra services on cable internet, and one month extra on wireless service. Both come with free installation.
What challenges and opportunities do you see in the IT sector?
Only two per cent of Nepalis use cable internet, so opportunities are plentiful. However, IT policies need to be changed and made more conducive to innovation and creativity. Infrastructure also needs a major overhaul. Only then can private companies and entrepreneurs take full advantage of Nepalis' growing appetite for up-to-date technology.
Beam it up