Fri, Nov 21, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Chunghwa Telecom mulling ADSL rate change: chairman

BROADBAND ACCESS Reacting to criticism from lawmakers about its fees for Internet services, the state-run telecom said it would try harder

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) said yesterday that it has considered offering bandwidth expansion incentives for heavy broadband subscribers as lawmakers demand the state-run company adjust its rates for broadband Internet services.

"We are not considering slashing rates across the board. But we are considering offering our heavy ADSL users preferential rates," Chunghwa Tele-com chairman Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) said at a press conference yesterday.

"Moreover, Chunghwa's ADSL subscribers will not have to pay additional fees to expand their bandwidth," he said, without giving further details.

Chunghwa is under pressure to lower rates for ADSL services after several lawmakers on Wednesday accused the nation's largest fixed-line operator of charging higher fees, compared to most Asian countries including South Korea and Japan.

Lawmakers urged the tele-communications regulator Direc-torate General of Telecommunications (DGT) to pressure Chunghwa into slashing ADSL charges to a level comparable to prices in other Asian nations.

Instead of cutting rates, Hochen said the company plans to offer an upgrade incentive package in the first quarter of next year for the 512k/64k users to expand the bandwidth to 1.5M/64K, which will speed up the processing.

Subscribers for such ADSL service need only to pay NT$898 per month, the same rate they pay now, for an expanded bandwidth, he added.

"Chunghwa, a state-owned company, has its social responsibility [of boosting the use of broadband in accordance with the government's policy], but it still has to safeguard the interest of its shareholders," Hochen explained.

But a DGT official, who asked not to be named, told the Taipei Times that "Chunghwa's charges indeed are higher, compared to most Asian nations."

The official said there is room for a rate cut, but as a telecommunications regulator, "the DGT cannot step in the pricing strategy.

As long as the telecommunications market is deregulated, the charges should be decided by market force [rather than political manipulation]," he said.

Chunghwa currently holds about 85 percent of Taiwan's ADSL market by having 24 million subscribers out of 28 million broadband users in Taiwan.

The company hopes to boost its subscriber base to around 30 million people in the first quarter of next year.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Transportation and Communication has decided to offer 180 million Chunghwa shares to local investors next week as part of its plan to lower the government's stake in the company by 1.87 percentage points to 63.11 percent.

The auction is scheduled to be held on Nov. 26 and 27.

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