Wed, Jul 20, 2005 - Page 10 News List

3G adoption to take time: BenQ

NEW TECHNOLOGY It will likely take a couple of years for consumers to switch to 3G, BenQ's chairman said while launching the nation's first brandname 3G handset

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH BLOOMBERG

Two models display the nation's first brandname 3G handset, the S80, presented by BenQ Corp at a press conference yesterday.

PHOTO: JACKIE LIN, TAIPEI TIMES

It will take Taiwan around two years to boost the popularity of high-speed third-generation (3G) mobile handsets, BenQ Corp (明基) chairman Lee Kun-yao (李焜耀) said yesterday while launching the nation's first brandname 3G phone.

"If telecommunications operators are active in promoting 3G technology by reducing rates and offering higher handset subsidies to slash the price tag, Taiwan will soon catch up with Europe," he said at a press conference.

By the end of this year, European nations are expected to see a ratio of around 20 percent of mobile phone subscribers using the data-oriented 3G handsets, which allow users to make video phone calls and download video clips, up from the current ratio of 10 percent, Lee said.

"We'll make and design at least five 3G phones by the end of next year," Lee said, adding that some will be marketed under the "BenQ-Siemens" dual brand but that no exact timetable has been set.

BenQ announced on June 7 that it would acquire Munich-based Siemens AG's unprofitable handset unit to take advantage of the German phone giant's brandname and retail channels.

BenQ, the nation's biggest brandname cellphone maker, yesterday launched its first 3G-compatible handset, the S80, which will retail for NT$12,990 (US$406) when bundled with the state-run Chunghwa Telecom Co's (中華電信) NT$383 monthly fee program.

The S80 model entered the European markets of the UK and Italy early this year, according to Chen Ching-lung (陳慶龍), director of BenQ's networking and communication division. He said the company has been shipping around 10,000 3G handsets per month.

As the nation's top three telecom service providers are launching their 3G operations in the third quarter, Lee said he hoped more incentives can be offered to lure phone users to make the switch.

For the moment, BenQ's S80 will be sold through mobile carriers Chunghwa Telecom and Taiwan Mobile Co (台灣大哥大). The company also has plans to expand sales to more European nations.

The introduction of 3G mobile phones may help Taiwan achieve its aim of developing the nation's handset industry into its third trillion-dollar industry, said Minister of Economic Affairs Ho Mei-yueh (何美玥), who also attended the launch ceremony yesterday.

Taiwan already has two industries, semiconductor and flat-panel display, with annual production near or exceeding NT$1 trillion (US$31 billion). The handset industry had a production value of NT$400 billion last year, up 28.5 percent from 2003, according to Ho.

BenQ's first 3G handset cost about NT$700 million in research and development, of which the ministry contributed some NT$100 million, Ho said.

"I hope BenQ can sell the 3G handsets not only in Taiwan, but around the whole world," she said.

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