Fri, May 19, 2006 - Page 11 News List

Far EasTone announces lower prices for voice calls

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH BLOOMBERG

Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信), the nation's No. 2 mobile carrier, yesterday lowered prices for voice calls in an attempt to boost revenues amid telecom industry sluggishness this year.

The new rate package enables Far EasTone subscribers to call fellow Far EasTone customers and subscribers of other mobile firms, as well as fixed-line numbers, at the same rate. The firm claimed the rates were the lowest among the nation's three major mobile operators.

"We hope the new rate plan will have a positive effect [on the revenues]," president Jan Nilsson told the Taipei Times.

He said the lower charges would encourage usage and entice new users away from competitors.

This year will be sluggish for the nation's telecommunication industry, with soft demand, so Far EasTone decided to offer the new rate package as a part of an effort to stimulate the market ahead of the summer high season, Nilsson said.

Far EasTone has around 6.1 million subscribers, representing roughly 30 percent of Taiwan's 19 million mobile users.

Smaller rival Taiwan Mobile Corp (台灣大哥大), which introduced similar rate packages late last year, said that they have helped attract more new users.

Separately, Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), the nation's largest telecom operator, said yesterday that it had inked an agreement with Microsoft Corp. The two firms will jointly develop a telecommunication operating system that will enable it to provide new services more quickly.

"The cooperation can help Chunghwa Telecom reduce development and integration costs, and accelerate the provision of new services," Lu Shyue-ching (呂學錦), president of Chunghwa Telecom, said in a statement.

Chunghwa Telecom expects to save at least 30 percent in development time as well as costs, the statement said.

The two companies said they expect to present the results of their cooperation in December, it added.

The system can be applied to all telecommunication services, including fixed-line and mobile, Tang Hung-chao, Chunghwa Telecom's coordinator for the project, said by telephone.

"It's in a kick-off period, and still too early to talk about purchases of parts and equipment," Tang said, declining to give financial details of the project.

Microsoft said in a statement that it has cooperated with AT&T Inc and a South Korean telecom operator in developing the system.

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