Fri, Jul 14, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Far EasTone says it will seek WiMAX license

MORE SPEED The mobile phone carrier said it wanted to offer WiMAX services, which allow users to transmit data about 30 times faster than current technology

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信), Taiwan's second-largest mobile phone carrier, said yesterday it would seek a spectrum band for deploying WiMAX technology in its communication network to meet growing demand for high-speed data transmission.

"WiMAX is a standards-based technology enabling the delivery of last mile wireless broadband access as an alternative to cable and DSL," as defined by the WiMAX Forum, established in 2001.

The advanced technology will allow users to transmit data about 30 times faster than current third-generation (3G) technology, or three-times faster than the more advanced 3.5G technology, or so-called high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) technology.

The National Communications Commission, the telecom industry regulator, is planning to auction four licenses for local companies to offer WiMAX services by the end of this year.

"Yes, we are interested [in applying for a license]. We are investing heavily in equipment ... We hope to provide greater capacity for multimedia transmission," said Jan Nilsson, president of Far EasTone.

Far EasTone would continue to use between 10 percent and 12 percent of its annual service revenues to purchase new equipment, Nilsson said.

As the WiMAX technology has yet to mature, Nilsson said he did not expect services based on the technology to be launched commercially before 2012 or 2013. Far EasTone would unveil HSDPA, or 3.5G, services later this year, he said.

The Far EasTone official made the remarks on the sidelines of a ceremony at which the telecom company received awards for "Mobile Service Provider of the Year" and "Most Innovative Mobile Service Campaign" from Asian MobieNews magazine.

"Mobile operators are forced to [take advantage of new technology] in order to fend off competition from other telecom service providers," said Alan Kuo (郭子廉), a telecom industry analyst at Topology Research Institute (拓墣產業研究所), based in Taipei.

In addition to increased data-transmission speed, WiMAX technology would offer the advantage of lower costs than 3G services, as the equipment required and licenses were cheaper, Kuo said.

First International Telecom Corp (大眾電信), the nation's only telecom operator offering services on the Personal Handy-phone System, which has a much smaller range and lower transmission power, would also be interested in bidding for a WiMAX license, Kuo said.

Kuo expected more telecom companies at home and abroad, including Taiwan's top phone company, Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), and Japan's NTT DoCoMo Inc, to start deploying WiMAX networks soon.

Related equipment sales around the world would rocket to an estimated US$3.73 billion in 2010 from US$270 million this year, according to Topology's forecast.

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