Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信), the nation’s third-largest mobile operator, yesterday said it won the exclusive rights to sell Hewlett-Packard Co’s (HP) netbook computers in Taiwan along with a three-year telecoms service contract, the latest tie-up between telecoms firms and netbook suppliers.
The unconventional business model is becoming even more popular during the economic downturn, with telecoms operators seeking to boost data service revenues by selling data card services in cooperation with notebook makers as more people turn to affordable netbooks, with functions that include an Internet connection.
“About 70 percent to 80 percent of Far EasTone data card subscribers chose to subscribe to the service when they purchased a netbook,” Far EasTone executive vice president Philby Chen (李靜芳) said.
“If the economic weakness continues, I believe there will be more people selecting to go with netbooks when subscribing to our service,” she said.
The sales of HP netbooks may help Far EasTone hit its target of boosting data card subscription to 250,000 users by the end of this year, from 150,000 users currently, Chen said.
Starting today, NT$7,990 will get consumers an HP Mini 1015 TU netbook and a three-year service contract with a minimum monthly fee of NT$775. Without the service package, the HP netbook is priced at NT$18,990.
Currently, Far EasTone also offers discounts for netbooks from Asustek Computer Inc (華碩) and Acer Inc (宏碁) for its data card subscribers who sign a service contract.
The nation’s three biggest telecoms companies, led by Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), are all working with netbook makers to sell their data card services, aiming to spur data usage to offset falling voice traffic.
Taiwan Mobile Co (台灣大哥大) is selling its own-brand netbooks at a lower price than existing brands along with its data cards, making it the only telecoms company tapping the netbook market.
“We will not rule out the possibility of supplying own-brand netbooks,” Chen said. “But it is not an urgent thing for us, as most netbook users are brand-aware and want good quality.”