Tweet from the top of Mount Everest

My colleagues in other Eurasian operations, which have been in TeliaSonera’s portfolio for a much longer period of time, might get cross with me. I beg their forgiveness! But I found it difficult to start with any other country than Nepal.

A closed kingdom for foreigners until 1950’s, this state with 8 out of the world’s 10 highest mountain peaks is a sure eye-catcher on the investment map of TeliaSonera.

TeliaSonera acquired Ncell (then called Spice Nepal, brand Mero Mobile) in October 2008. The company was 3 years old and had about one and a half million customers, compared to almost 3 million of its rival, the state-owned Nepal Telecom, which launched GSM in 1999.

In just 3 years’ time, during 2009-2011, Ncell became the market leader. Its subscriber base has grown five-fold, to 7 million customers. Its network coverage has doubled, from about 45 percent of the country population to 95 percent. To make this happen, 6 times more base stations have been built all over Nepal, including the highest 3G base station in the world! It was installed on Mount Everest at 5,200 m altitude and enables the dwellers of the Khumbu Valley, as well as tourists and climbers, to use not only voice calls and SMS, but also video-calls, email, and internet. In Spring 2011, a British climber sent a “tweet” from the top of Mount Everest.

If you happen to go to Nepal, you will be pleasantly surprised with Ncell network quality in general. One might expect a country like Nepal to be a “dumping ground” of second-hand equipment from more mature markets. Nothing close to that! On the contrary, Ncell possesses the most modern network and billing solutions. This is the advantage of building a network from scratch in the modern age of telecommunications (you can buy the latest technologies for a good price). It is also the result of TeliaSonera’s strategy of having the best quality networks in all its markets. 

“Green” solutions were taken into account at the earliest stages of Ncell network planning. In particular, Ncell is looking at wide usage of solar energy for powering its base stations. Today, about 3% of Ncell’s (2G) base stations use alternative energy. In 2012, their number is planned to be increased by two and a half times.

Adoption of this solution has actually been driven by a business need - fuel, which powers electricity generators at base stations during electricity outages, is a scarce resource in Nepal, and the outages (so called "load shedding") may last as long as 16 hours per day, especially in winter time. Also, because Nepal is a highly mountainous country, delivering fuel to base stations located at high altitudes is not an easy task. Muddy roads, landslides, and forest debris are some of the obstacles that need to be overcome!

Some of the equipment has to be delivered by "headload" or even in more “creative” ways, in absence of accesible roads during the rainy season, or to high altitudes. Thus, the equipment for Ncell's 3G base station on Mount Everest was delivered by headload during 5 days of ascend.

In spite of these challenges, Ncell has been very successful in building its network and continuously raising the service coverage and quality, which is being widely appreciated by our customers. In 2011, Ncell's revenue doubled compared to the year before (in the local currency, Nepali Rupee).

Ncell is currently the biggest foreign investor and employer in Nepal.

If you are interested to hear more about Ncell and its developments, the company CEO, Mr. Pasi Koistinen, has his own blog (in English), which you are welcome to follow.



  1. Alexandra Akkirman

    2 January 2014 09:53
    Dear Manoj, I believe you have already been assisted with your question. For any further inquiries regarding Ncell services, please contact or

    Best regards,
  2. Alexandra Akkirman

    30 December 2013 13:22
    Dear Ekendra, thank you for your feedback. All Ncell base stations are equipped with generators, to ensure continuity of the service during power cuts. And I’m proud to share that aready nearly 15% of Ncell base stations in Nepal are equipped with solar panels.

    Best regards,
  3. Ekendra

    27 December 2013 06:47
    Tweet from the top of Mt Everest. And now 3G calls.

    Utilizing the potential of Green to power up Base Stations in a place where BS have to be carried over in days otherwise accessible by any means is certainly good start by Ncell in Nepal. (Pictures in your post depict it all!) No doubt Ncell has had a good coverage recently, the power shortage is likely to continue for years now; hence the strategy now have to be to accommodate the traffic demands in those towers.

    Also so true to network signals; but often time it fails to be of good quality in cities but of so good praisable quality in remote parts (where most of the real Nepal lies.)
  4. manojkafle

    22 December 2013 07:02
    I want to deactivate my MY5 service but I don't have the idea to deactivate it. please help me.

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Written by

  • Alexandra

    Corporate Communications Manager

    I joined TeliaSonera Eurasia regional head office in Istanbul in 2010. In my role, I am responsible for coordination of communication activities in the region, hands-on support to the network of communicators in presently 7 mobile operators in 7 countries, and enabling the communication flow between the countries and the head office in Stockholm. I had been working with the TeliaSonera Eurasia team as a consultant since 2007.

    Before that, I was a communication manager at Nielsen, first - in its Russian branch, and later in the regional office for Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa. I have about 15 years of experience in communication and business intelligence, always in multinational environments.

    Originally from St.Petersburg, Russia, I've been living in Istanbul since 2006. I am a linguist by profession and am fond of languages, psychology, travelling and discovering cultures.

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