Thu, Feb 03, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Taiwan takes broadband lead after South Korea

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

With the penetration rate of broadband Internet access breaking through the level of 50 percent of the population, Taiwan has the second-highest broadband utilization rate in Asia, after South Korea, in the second half of last year, according to poll results released yesterday.

The nation was estimated to have 10.31 million broadband users, representing a penetration rate of 53.78 percent, in the second half of last year, the Taiwan Network Information Center (台灣網路資訊中心) reported in its biannual survey.

The survey polled 3,001 people above 12 years of age across the nation between Dec. 1 and Jan. 10.

During the first half of last year, Taiwan was ranked third in terms of broadband penetration in Asia after South Korea and Hong Kong, with 9.36 million broadband users, or a 48.99 percent permeation.

The number of Internet users increased to 13.8 million people, or 60.25 percent of the total population, from 12.74 million people, or 56.49 percent, according to the survey.

"The result showed the nation's increasingly mature development of Internet and broadband infrastructure," the center's acting executive director Lu Ai-chin (呂愛琴) said.

The poll found that digital-music downloading and online gaming are the two most popular paid services among broadband users, accounting for 30.71 percent and 28.51 percent, respectively.

Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) -- which allows users to convey voice messages through the Internet with zero or cheaper charges than conventional telephony -- is another paid service welcomed by some 13.12 percent of broadband users in the second half of last year, up from around 11 percent in the first half, the survey found.

In addition to broadband connection, the poll showed that 2.38 million people used wireless Internet access while 1.27 million people preferred cellphone connection.

In a bid to promote wireless and mobile Internet access and also boost the nation's communication-equipment manufacturing industry, the government plans to spend NT$7 billion to build a seamless communication space across the nation within five years.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs unveiled last month the world's first dual-network system, which integrates wireless local area networks (WLANs) and General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), or third-generation telecom technology, into one mobile phone. This connection approach allows people using mobile phones to access the Internet through both modes that complement each other.

However, an academic expressed conservative viewpoints about the new application, saying that only a small segment of users would enjoy the technology, including some users who need to receive and send heavy loads of information.

“But VoIP could be a driving force to further boost such applications, considering it is cheaper than conventional mobile rates,” said Liang Te-hsin (梁德馨), associate professor of statistics information science at Fu Jen University, who was invited by the organization to conduct the survey.

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