Far EasTone Telecommunications Co Ltd (FET, 遠傳電信) yesterday said it planned to purchase as many as 2.8 million mobile and wearable devices, including Apple Inc’s first smartwatch, this year in its latest push to accelerate growth of 4G subscriptions.
The nation’s No. 3 telecom operator last month set a goal of tripling its 4G subscribers to 3 million this year from 1 million last year, indicating that users of the high-speed data-oriented 4G service would account for nearly 50 percent of its post-paid customers two years after its launch.
“It will not be difficult to reach that goal,” chief sales and marketing officer Maxwell Cheng (鄭智衡) told reporters. “More than 60 percent of our new customers sign up for 4G services. Growth momentum is still robust, as Taiwan’s 4G penetration is currently below 20 percent.”
Overall, 4G subscribers are expected to reach 10 million this year, Cheng said. He expects the nation’s three largest telecoms to secure 3 million 4G subscribers each, and the two smaller 4G service providers to attain a combined 1 million.
To meet the demand expected to accompany FET’s rapid growth in 4G subscribers, the company plans to buy 2.35 million mobile phones, along with an unspecified number of wearable devices and tablets this year.
FET hopes to sell the Apple Watch sometime this year following its US debut, and hopes the launch will help boost overall smart wearable device sales, Cheng said.
Cheng said that less than 10 percent of the handsets sourced this year would support voice over long-term evolution (VoLTE) technology, which allows users to talk on the telephone via a 4G data network, citing limited selection.
Cheng said that FET plans to launch its first VoLTE service in the first half of this year, rather than this quarter as originally scheduled.
Shares of FET dropped 0.79 percent to NT$75 yesterday, versus the TAIEX’s 0.86 percent loss.
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