Fri, Feb 23, 2001 - Page 17 News List

Price war drives phone fees down

NEW BALL GAME Taiwan Fixed Network announced a direct international dialing service and other upgrades that are sparking other telecoms to make similar offers

STAFF WRITER

With competition in Taiwan's fixed-line market heating up between telecom rivals, Taiwan Fixed Network Co (台灣固網) aims to take a chunk of the long-distance market from telecom goliath, state-run Chunghwa Telecom Inc (中華電信). Chunghwa holds a virtual monopoly on long-distance dialing -- but not for long.

"Taiwan Fixed Network vows to provide fast, quality communication services to customers," Taiwan Fixed Network president Anthony Knight said yesterday.

Chunghwa Telecom will face a barrage of new competition in next month when the big three contenders -- Taiwan Fixed Network Co, Eastern Broadband Telecom Corp (東森寬頻) and New Century InfoComm Corp (新世紀資通) -- begin offering local and international calling services to consumers in March.

Taiwan Fixed Network Co Chairman Jack Sun (孫道存) hit the ground running yesterday, announcing plans to launch four new telecommunication services starting next month.

The new services include an 006 direct international dialing service, ADSL broadband communications, intelligent Internet services and an Internet database center, Sun said.

Currently international callers must use Chunghwa's 002 dialing prefix to gain overseas calling access. But the new 006 international calling prefix offers callers a new calling option, and is expected push the bureaucratic state-run telecom firm to improve services and drop rates. Taiwan Fixed Network is luring customers to subscribe to the service -- prior to the March launch -- by offering an international calling plan valued at NT$2,000 for NT$1,000.

Taiwan Fixed Network, which is capitalized at NT$92.2 billion has already installed 150,000 telecom lines in the three major metropolitan areas of Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung plus 12 secondary regions including Ilan, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, and Changhua. The company will start long distance operations before the end of the first quarter.

New services

* Taiwan Fixed Network Co said it will offer a direct international dialing service, ADSL broadband communications, intelligent Internet services and an Internet database center.

* The company currently offers an international calling plan valued at NT$2,000 for NT$1,000.

* Chunghwa Telecom responded by saying it will lower charges for international calls.


"Nothing can drive economic growth faster than development in telecommunication industry ... and Taiwan Fixed Network is confident in the market," Knight said.

However, the company admitted that since its network for domestic fixed phone lines has not yet been completed nationwide, it is not easy for the company to woo away Chunghwa Telecom's 12.5 million telephone subscribers at this stage. But, there is still room for more international dialing price cuts, the company said.

In response to the promotion plan, Chunghwa Telecom yesterday said that it will also lower its charges for international calls by 16 percent on average and from Taiwan to China by 60 percent, beginning in March.

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