Thu, May 19, 2011 - Page 11 News List

Asia Pacific aims to woo users with launch of 3.5G

DELAY:The telecoms operator hopes its long-stalled equipment purchase application will be approved so it can start preparations for a commercial launch

By Jason Tan  /  Staff Reporter

Asia Pacific Telecom Co (亞太電信), the nation’s No. 4 telecoms operator, yesterday celebrated its customer base surpassing the 3 million mark last month and said it hoped to have 3.38 million subscribers by the end of the year after it rolls out its 3.5G service.

“We are ‘cautiously optimistic’ that the authorities will grant us an equipment import license within the next two months,” chief executive officer Vincent Chih (遲煥國) told reporters on the sidelines of the celebration.

Despite taking the lead in -introducing 3G services in Taiwan, Asia Pacific has lagged behind other operators in launching higher-speed 3.5G services.

The company’s application to import EVDO equipment, which supports 3.5G, has been under review by the National Communications Commission since last year.

SECURITY THREATS

The commission approved its application to import 500 base stations made by China’s Huawei Technologies Co (華為) in 2009. However, its application for another 1,052 base stations last year has been stalled after -legislators raised questions of -potential security threats and information leaks by using equipment from a Chinese vendor.

Chih said an operator needs about 2,000 base stations to be able to launch 3.5G services that cover at least 80 percent of the population.

DEPLOYMENT

Once the equipment purchase gets the nod from the commission, equipment deployment around the country will take about four months before the company can commercially launch the service, he said.

To attract consumers to sign up for its service, Asia Pacific yesterday introduced its first tablet PC/3.5G service plan.

The promotion is a tie-up with Samsung Electronics Co.

Asia Pacific has plans to upgrade the 3.5G network to Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, instead of WiMAX, in the future, Chih said.

Asia Pacific earlier this month announced a 3 percent across-the-board pay increase for its 1,440 employees, retroactive to March 1.

The move came after the government said it was considering raising civil servants’ wages by 3 percent, and Asia Pacific had not given raises for four years, it said.

The company reported a 12.6 percent rise in first-quarter revenue to NT$6.1 billion (US$211.4 million). Last year’s revenue advanced 24 percent to NT$23.1 billion, while net income was NT$3.7 billion, or NT$1.12 per share.

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