The government is slated to review the nation’s fourth-generation wireless (4G) policy by the end of this month after Intel Corp’s abrupt move to dissolve a task force on WiMAX, an official said yesterday.
Taiwan is one of the strongest supporters of WiMAX technology against major 4G rival Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology, with Taiwanese firms eager to sell telecom equipment and electronics that support WiMAX technology.
The government’s backing for WiMAX, to some extent, has meant the nation has been slow to move toward LTE technology, as the National Communications Commission has not come up with a clear plan to auction LTE licenses for local telecom operators.
Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless and AT&T in the US, as well as Japan’s top mobile operator, NTT DoCoMo, are expected to launch LTE services by the end of the year. Three years ago, Taiwan auctioned six WiMAX licenses.
These developments have forced the government to completely rethink its 4G policy.
“We are studying the potential impact from Intel’s move on local industries,” Industrial Development Bureau Director-General Woody Duh (杜紫軍) said by telephone yesterday.
“We are likely to complete an evaluation by the end of this month for a further discussion with economic officials,” Duh said. “It is too early to say if the government will speed up the nation’s LTE development.”
The Committee of Communications Industry Development (通訊推動小組), under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, is in charge of the evaluation, Duh said.
He denied reports the ministry would hold an emergency meeting tomorrow to revise Taiwan’s 4G policy in response to Intel’s decision to incorporate its WiMAX Program Office with other divisions.
“There is no such meeting on our schedule,” Duh said.
A report issued by market researcher In-Stat on Wednesday said LTE was expected to account for 61.2 percent of 4G-enabled mobile devices by 2014, despite WiMAX’s early lead. Smartphones and computing devices would be the only devices expected to transit to 4G technologies over the next five years, it said.
Duh said the ministry’s plan to form a venture to sell WiMAX products such as chips and terminal equipment in collaboration with Intel and local firms was on schedule. However, he declined to confirm the initial investment.
The Chinese-language Commercial Times reported on Saturday that the investment would be US$100 million when the venture was formed by the end of this quarter with a possible capital injection from the government’s National Development Fund (國發基金).