Wed, Jan 14, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Data-oriented services show promise, researcher says

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Revenue growth for Taiwanese telecom operators could accelerate to 4 percent this year as faster technology upgrades may help boost usage of data-oriented services, market researcher International Data Corp (IDC) said yesterday.

This growing trend would help counter broader downward pressures suffered by most sectors in Taiwan — especially manufacturers of electronics — as consumer and corporate spending contracts amid the economic downturn, IDC said.

Led by Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), local telecom companies could make US$10.69 billion in revenues this year, up 3.9 percent from US$10.28 billion last year, IDC said.

Last year, revenues increased 3.2 percent, IDC said.

“The nation’s telecom sector has been little affected by the economic downturn,” IDC analyst Alan Tsao (曹永暉) told reporters on the sidelines of a press conference in Taipei yesterday.

“The main driver is the launch of new services using advanced technologies, such as location-based services,” Tsao said.

In recent years, local telecom companies have invested actively on building infrastructure using advanced technologies, graduating from second-generation (2G) to third-generation (3G) and then to 3.5G and WiMAX, enabling the introduction of more data-oriented services to offset falling revenues, Tsao said.

Supported by advanced technology and increased bandwidth, telecom companies have been able to offer new services and packages for smart handheld devices or netbooks to promote data usage, Tsao said.

Chunghwa Telecom’s sales of Apple Inc’s iPhone set an example, he said.

Telecom companies are gradually lowering prices for data services on smart phones to encourage more usage, Tsao said.

This year, data services could take a bigger share of revenues, reaching 11 percent or 12 percent, from 10 percent last year, Tsao said.

Backed by aggressiveness in bundling smart handheld devices with new service packages, revenues of smartphones including the iPhone and HTC Corp’s (宏達電) Touch Diamond series could experience double-digit growth this year from last year, Tsao said, without providing figures.

Health and emergency dispatching services via mobile phones on the WiMAX network are also becoming more popular and represent a promising growth area for local carriers, Tsao said.

Taiwan’s WiMAX license holders are scheduled to launch commercial services this summer. Many government-backed broadband projects using WiMAX technology began offering high-speed services last year.

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