Tue, Jan 13, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Tatung may postpone launch of WiMax again

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwanese WiMAX license holder Tatung InfoComm Co Ltd (大同電信) said yesterday it may once again postpone the commercial launch of its high-speed and data-oriented wireless services in Taiwan.

Tatung, which obtained a license to operate WiMAX in southern Taiwan and the outlying islands in June 2007, put off the launch of operations in Penghu from the end of last year to the the first quarter.

Tatung beat local rivals in getting the go-ahead from the National Communications Commission to launch its WiMAX services in November.

“We will not hasten the commercial launch of the service. We are now aggressively improving coverage outdoors and indoors in Penghu,” company president Peter Yen (巖福心) told a press briefing yesterday.

The company could add six to eight more base stations to the existing 15 units and build some cable-like indoor facilities for better coverage in Penghu, Yen said.

“The commercial launch may fall in March or April,” Yen said.

Tatung is not the only WiMAX license holder to postpone the launch of operations amid challenges such as the high cost of WiMAX stations, a lack of WiMAX-enabled cellphones and the need to offer appealing content to attract users.

But “the price of base stations is much cheaper now,” said Teddy Huang, president of WiMAX license holder Vmax Telecom Co (威邁思).

Vmax has obtained US$11.7 million in investment from Intel Capital — the investment arm of the US semiconductor giant Intel Corp — in return for a 20-percent stake in the local telecom carrier.

Vmax has spent NT$1 billion buying base 200 stations from Samsung Electronics Co and has ordered 100 units from Alvarion Ltd, Huang said.

“The company may [launch] commercial operations in June or July in Taipei and the service will then extend to Hsinchu and Taoyuan,” Huang said.

Global Mobile Corp (全球一動) and Vee Telecom Multimedia Co Ltd (威達超舜) rescheduled their launch dates to the third quarter at the earliest.

Financially troubled First International Telecom Corp (大眾電信) said it could roll out its WiMAX services by the end of the year once it gets the nod from credit banks for its restructuring and development plans in March.

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