Thu, Dec 14, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Taiwan Mobile to offer switchable GSM/Wi-Fi phone

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A model displays one of the new dual-mode handsets that were introduced by Taiwan Mobile Co at a press conference yesterday.

PHOTO: WANG YI-HUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Taiwan Mobile Co (台灣大哥大), Taiwan's third-largest mobile phone operator, yesterday unveiled its first dual-mode handset enabling free Internet-based telephony services, targeting price-sensitive students as part of plans to boost subscribers.

That will also make Taiwan Mobile the first local wireless telecommunications service provider to offer handsets allowing users to switch between GSM and Wi-Fi wireless technologies on the fly.

The handset is especially designed for making Internet calls using Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, though bigger rival Chunghwa Telcom Co (中華電信) also introduced handsets supporting Wi-Fi technology earlier this year for connecting to the Internet.

"We believe this user-friendly dual-mode phone will help us lure more subscribers, although the free Internet calls function could reduce our revenues [per user] to some degree," said Daphne Yang (楊麗貞), a vice president of Taiwan Mobile.

"Making calls via the Internet is becoming a trend. We prefer to participate in the game instead of ignoring it," Yang said.

As of October, Taiwan Mobile had 5.59 million subscribers, or 30 percent of market share, according to the latest statistics compiled by the National Communications Commission.

To further expand its third-generation (3G) coverage, Taiwan Mobile yesterday also said it planned to spend NT$4.8 billion (US$147.59 million) on purchasing new equipment over a three-year period starting next year.

Students subscribing to this new service would be able to make free calls via the Internet while on campus and then switch to Taiwan Mobile's network outside the coverage of Internet hot spots.

Taiwan Mobile plans to offer the phone with multiple rate packages -- ranging from NT$1 to NT$2,990 -- for Tamkang University and Feng Chia University students as the two colleges are aggressively expanding their Internet hot spots to allow wireless access on campus, Yang said.

In the initial phase, Taiwan Mobile planned to offer 3,000 Wi-Fi/GSM handsets with a mobile number and a number for subscribers to make calls on the Internet later this month, he said.

The phone company plans to extend the service to 15 colleges in the first half of next year and to 65 colleges around the nation by the end of the second half, Yang said.

Taiwan Mobile said earlier this month that net income increased 2 percent to

NT$15.75 billion in the first 11 months of this year, from NT$15.33 billion

a year ago, due to stringent cost control.

Taiwan Mobile shares increased slightly by 0.15 percent to NT$31.8 yesterday

on the Taiwan Stock Exchange, outperforming the benchmark TAIEX index's

0.11-percent loss.

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