Thu, Feb 27, 2014 - Page 14 News List

Far EasTone introduces own-branded 3G phones

Staff writer, with CNA

Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信), the nation’s third-largest mobile operator, unveiled on Tuesday four own-branded smartphones priced as low as NT$2,990 (US$99) to encourage 2G users to shift to its 3G network.

The Smart series phones are assembled by Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) and Chinese handset maker K-Touch (天宇) using chipsets supplied by MediaTek Inc (聯發科) and US-based Broadcom Corp.

The new phones have screen sizes ranging from 4 inches to 5.5 inches, and cost between NT$2,990 and NT$6,990, targeting entry-level users who are expected to shift from 2G to 3G, Far EasTone executive vice president Maxwell Cheng (鄭智衡) said.

“We are offering high-performance products to satisfy various consumer needs,” Cheng told a press conference, projecting that sales of the four new Smart phones would exceed 100,000 units in the first half of the year.

The nation’s top three telecoms are all trying to encourage 2G customers to switch to 3G services because their 2G licenses are due to expire in June 2017.

Offering affordable phones with discounts on monthly fees is one of the incentives being used to attract 3G service subscribers, given that most 2G users are price-sensitive.

Cheng said the company is aiming to reduce its 2G client base from 800,000 to 300,000 by the end of the year with the launch of the Smart series phones, and to pick up 500,000 new subscribers for its 4G services this year.

Taking aim at mid-tier and entry-level smartphone users could be a good strategy, as the sub-US$200 smartphone market grew to 42.6 percent of global volume last year, or 430 million units, data compiled by research company IDC showed.

Worldwide smartphone marketing campaigns continue to focus on flagship devices like Apple Inc’s iPhone 5S, Samsung Electronics Co’s Galaxy Note 3 and the HTC Corp’s (宏達電) HTC One, but research shows that consumer buying is rapidly shifting toward products with significantly lower price points, IDC said.

Far EasTone plans to purchase 2.5 million smartphones this year, with its own-branded Smart models expected to account for 10 percent of overall sales, Cheng said.

He said Far EasTone also plans to launch its own-branded 4G phones priced at between NT$5,000 and NT$10,000 later this year when its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network begins operation.

LTE-enabled smartphones are expected to account for more than 50 percent of the firm’s planned smartphone purchases this year, while models supporting Taiwan’s new 700 megahertz frequency is likely to grab a 20 percent or higher share of the total, he said.

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