NT, Ncell and Smart fail NTA’s quality and reliability test—even in the Valley

NT Ncell Smart fail NTA network reliability test quality call drop rate setup time standard
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Currently, there are three major cellular network service providers in Nepal: state-owned Nepal Telecom, Ncell, and Smart Telecom. The question about which among the three offers the best service is often asked. However, as made evident by a recent test, neither one of them met the basic requirements of quality and services. Here, we are discussing the results of NTA’s network quality test on Nepal Telecom (NT), Ncell, and Smart Telecom.

NT, Ncell and Smart fail NTA’s quality test

The test in question was carried out by Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) in three major cities of the Kathmandu Valley. NTA considered 20 locations inside the capital, 6 in Lalitpur, and 4 in Bhaktapur. In addition, the test took place in and around Ring Road.


For the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) of a network, NTA uses Drive Test. Under this, the testing phone(s) are placed in a vehicle and moved around a certain route. The phones are configured to connect to the most appropriate network (2G/3G/4G) and are used for making voice and data calls of up to 40 seconds.

Key Performance Indicators

NTA has three major Key Performance Indicators to determine the quality of the network. For this test, it excluded the ping test and HTTP browsing delay that were part of past tests.

Call Setup Time

First is the call setup time. It is the time required by the network to initiate a call. According to NTA’s standard, a call setup time needs to be 5 seconds or less. However, none of the three telecom service providers were within the threshold.

Network Service Provider Call Connection Time NTA’s Threshold
Nepal Telecom (NT) 9.34s 5s
Ncell 5.27s
Smart Telecom 10.27s

Still, Ncell performed comparatively better than NT and Smart, while the latter had the longest call setup duration.

Call Setup Success Rate

It is the number of successful calls out of a hundred inside the particular network.

Ncell also has the best call setup success rate of 94.43%. NTC comes second with 90.51% while Smart Cell lags behind with an 84.74% success rate. However, none of the three meet the NTA’s threshold of 99%.

Network Service Provider Call Setup Success Rate NTA’s Threshold
Nepal Telecom (NT) 90.51% 99%
Ncell 94.43%
Smart Telecom 84.47%

Drop Rate

Moving on, the drop rate is the number of automatic disconnections per 100 calls. Nepal Telecom, Ncell, and Smart Telecom all had call drop rates below 1%. NTA requires this KPI to be under 2%.

Network Service Provider Call Drop Rate NTA’s Threshold
Nepal Telecom (NT) 0.87% 2%
Ncell 0.20%
Smart Telecom 0.45%

Need for a fourth player

As revealed by the test, Nepali consumers are using services from NT, Ncell, and Smart Telecom that are below the standard set by NTA. What’s worse is that we don’t have many options outside of the major three.

CG has time and again promised to provide reliable and affordable telecom service. Unfortunately, it is yet to receive a unified license from the Government of Nepal.

CG Net has already shown how a single provider can spice up the market if it is determined. And Nepal desperately needs similar magic in the telecom industry.

  • Meanwhile, check out our review of the CG Net.