Thu, May 01, 2014 - Page 13 News List

NCC gives top three firms 4G green light

By Kevin Chen  /  Staff reporter

The nation’s three biggest telecoms yesterday received formal permission from the National Communications Commission (NCC) to provide fourth-generation (4G) services in Taiwan.

The three companies — Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), Taiwan Mobile Co (台灣大) and Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信) — won 4G, or long-term evolution (LTE), spectrum licenses through a government-held auction in October last year. They are expected to launch 4G services in the first half of this year, the commission said in a statement.

Chunghwa, the nation’s largest telecom by revenue, yesterday said that it plans to roll out 4G services in July.

“Our key goal for this year is focused on business development, with an emphasis on the 4G, enterprise revenue and fiber segments,” Chunghwa Telecom chairman and chief executive Rick Tsai (蔡力行) said in a statement. “Our aim is to acquire at least 40 percent of the 4G market by the end of 2014.”

At the 4G spectrum auction completed on Oct. 30 last year, Chunghwa secured the B2 block in the 900MHz frequency band, as well as C2 and C5 blocks in the 1,800MHz frequency band at a total cost of NT$39.08 billion (US$1.29 billion).

Taiwan Mobile acquired the A4 frequency block in the 700MHz spectrum and the C1 block in the 1,800MHz spectrum for NT$29.01 billion, while Far EasTone won the A2 block in the 700MHz spectrum, as well as the C2 and the C4 blocks in the 1,800MHz frequency band for NT$31.32 billion.

Taiwan Mobile, the second-largest telecom, is also scheduled to launch its 4G service in July, the company said.

“Taiwan Mobile aims to lead the 4G market with the highest network coverage rate, the fastest connection speed and the most stable service,” president James Cheng (鄭俊卿) said in the statement.

The company plans to offer consumers 17 4G smartphones and tablets when its 4G network is inaugurated, Cheng said. They will include its own-brand Amazing products, as well as models from Samsung Electronics Co, HTC Corp (宏達電), Sony Corp and LG Electronics Co, he added.

Far EasTone is also positioning itself to grab a slice of the lucrative 4G market.

The nation’s third-largest telecom last month unveiled an Alcatel-made mid-tier 4G smartphone and plans to introduce a large-screen model this month in partnership with Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密).

However, Primasia Securities Co analyst Filia Lin said “the relatively immature ecosystem” for the 700MHz frequency may cap Taiwan Mobile’s and Far EasTone’s growth potential in the 4G market.

So far, only four out of 35 LTE-compatible smartphones support the 700MHz frequency, so the two companies may need to provide more incentives to subscribers when launching their 4G services, which implies a risk to their earnings outlook, Lin said in a report.

“The majority of consumers still value brands over specifications,” Lin said. “Major brands will launch more compatible models in the second half, but it is uncertain about the iPhone.”

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