Thu, Apr 05, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Taiwan mobile calls for tiered data pricing

Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwan Mobile Co (台灣大哥大) has been urging consumers and the country’s telecommunications regulator to accept tiered data pricing plans to ease the burden on mobile phone networks.

The country’s second-largest mobile operator is negotiating with the National Communications Commission (NCC) over the impact of “all-you-can-eat” data plans, which have led to increasing traffic on the existing 3G networks, Taiwan Mobile co-president Cliff Lai (賴弦五) told a media briefing recently.

“If consumers still demand ‘all-you-can-eat’ data plans, then the introduction of high-speed 4G networks will not be able to solve the problem,” Lai said.

“However, if we can come up with a tiered data pricing proposal that the NCC accepts, we will quickly be able to launch networks with speeds of between 21 and 42 megabytes [MB] per second,” he added.

Taiwan Mobile rolled out a trial service of its 21MB high-speed network in Taipei City and New Taipei City (新北市) in July last year, and the coverage expanded to Greater Taichung and Greater Kaohsiung in August, and to Taoyuan City, Hsinchu City and Greater Tainan in September.

However, the 21MB network was only available in metropolitan areas due to economies of scale and the high cost of upgrading base stations, according to the company.

“If the government hopes Taiwan can move toward 4G networks with LTE technology, a proportion of mobile users will have to change their usage habits,” Lai said.

He added that Taiwan Mobile would continue working with the commission to come up with tiered pricing plans that solved the problem of heavy traffic on networks, but did not affect the rights of normal mobile users.

Earlier in February, commission spokesman Chen Jeng-chang (陳正倉) said the commission had asked telecoms operators to upgrade their network infrastructure and review their “all-you-can-eat” data plans, according to local media reports.

Such data plans were launched in the early stage of 3G networks to attract mobile users, but the rationality of the pricing system needs to be reviewed now as more consumers are used to using networks for a long period of time, Chen said.

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