Chunghwa Telecom Co (CHT, 中華電信), the nation’s largest telecom operator, yesterday said it planned to invest at least NT$3 billion (US$97.94 million) to double the number of wireless hotspots to 12,000 next year to offer more and cheaper Wi-Fi bandwidth for users of Apple’s iPhone and other smartphones.
This would be part of the company’s increased efforts to ease the burden on mobile data bandwidth caused primarily by an uptake of smartphones after CHT offered subscribers a flat rate for unlimited Internet access.
“An increase in Wi-Fi deployment will help ease the [heavy] loading on the 3G mobile network,” CHT president Chang Shaio-tung (張曉東) said.
The spending on Wi-Fi deployment would make up less than 10 percent of the phone company’s total capital spending of about NT$35 billion next year.
CHT is collaborating with the nation’s biggest food producer, Uni-President Group (統一集團), to expand its hotspot network to 4,600 President Chain Store Corp (統一超商) outlets around the nation by year-end.
That would bring the number of hotspots operated by CHT to a total of 5,900.
At the moment the company has 1,300 hotspots in airports, coffee shops and McDonald’s restaurants across the country.
Next year, the Wi-Fi coverage may be expanded to Uni-President Group’s drugstore chain Cosmed (康是美) and doughnut chain Mr Donut, the company said.
Furthermore, CHT plans to offer Wi-Fi service to its household ADSL subscribers by charging an extra flat rate of NT$100 per month per household, beginning early next year.
The new services would allow the company’s ADSL users to obtain wireless access to the Internet at home, cafes and restaurants.
“With such extra services, we will gain more subscribers,” Chang said.
CHT has 4 million ADSL users and more than 7 million mobile subscribers.
With Wi-Fi services, President Chain Store said consumers could stay longer at its outlets and spend more.
Every day bout 7 million people visit the nation’s 7-Eleven stores — which are operated by President Chain Store — the company said.