Thu, May 10, 2018 - Page 12 News List

New NT$499 data plan fuels price war

FALLING THRESHOLD:The rate is a new low for unlimited data subscriptions, moving telecoms further from the tiered rates they had hoped for when launching 4G services

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

There is no sign of a truce in the price war among the major telecoms, as the nation’s largest telecom, Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), has relaunched a NT$499 per month unlimited data plan to entice mobile users to switch service provider.

Taiwan Mobile Co (台灣大) and Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信) yesterday followed suit by unveiling similar flat-rate data plans at full network speed.

Chunghwa Telecom’s latest move came after it last week terminated a NT$499 rate limited to civil servants, teachers and military personnel, which is now available to all users.

Chunghwa Telecom shares fell 1.79 percent to NT$110 in Taipei trading yesterday, while Taiwan Mobile dropped 1.36 percent to NT$108.5 and Far EasTone dove 2.47 percent to NT$75, amid market unease about profit erosion.

In response to an investor’s concern about an escalation of the price war, Far EasTone president Yvonne Li (李彬) on Friday last week said that NT$499 service plans would be a “short-term phenomenon.”

Chunghwa Telecom’s relaunching of the NT$499 plan spoils Li’s prediction that “the big three have no intention of initiating a price war in a nearly saturated market.”

The unlimited data plan has significantly lowered the threshold for unlimited Internet usage from NT$699 last year, meaning mobile providers have moved a step further from offering tiered rates as they originally hoped when launching 4G services.

Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile and Far EasTone have reported a more than 10 percent year-on-year contraction in net profit for the first three months of this year, amid dwindling average revenue per user (ARPU).

Chunghwa Telecom last quarter saw its ARPU tumble to NT$581, from NT$590 a year earlier, while Taiwan Mobile’s ARPU fell from NT$861 to NT$825 and Far EasTone’s fell from NT$883 to NT$843, company data showed.

All mobile users, including new subscribers, existing users renewing service contracts and those switching mobile provider, are eligible for the new NT$499 unlimited data plan.

Previously, new rates applied only to new subscribers.

The flat-rate plans are only available until Tuesday next week, according to the telecoms’ press releases, but it is questionable whether the offers will expire as scheduled.

Subscribers would be required to pay a minimum of NT$499 per month on 24-month or 30-month service contracts.

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