Thu, Dec 13, 2018 - Page 12 News List

Far EasTone launches 5G auto alliance

FIELD TESTS:The autonomous vehicle project is part of the telecom’s plans to encourage uptake of the new technology, as 5G handsets are expected to be pricey

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Far EasTone Telecommunications Co chairman Douglas Hsu, left, and New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu wave after boarding a driverless minibus in Taipei yesterday to attend a news conference to promote the company’s 5G automotive alliance.

Photo: He Yu-hua, Taipei Times

Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信), the nation’s No. 3 telecom operator, yesterday launched an alliance to offer cellular-based 5G field trials for manufacturers in the autonomous vehicle supply chain in the first half of next year at the earliest.

The formation of the alliance is part of the telecom’s broader efforts to create a 5G ecosystem to accelerate uptake of the new technology after its commercialization, the company said.

Far EasTone is the nation’s first and sole telecom participating in the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA), giving it an advantage to share and offer the latest automotive applications, it said.

The company plans to offer field trials at select sites, including Shalun (沙崙) in Tainan, Linkuo (林口) in New Taipei City and Hutou Mountain Park (虎頭山園區) in Taoyuan.

“The first field tests will be available in Shalun,” company president Yvonne Li (李彬) told reporters. “We are also considering adding [New Taipei City’s] Banciao (板橋) and Tamsui (淡水) to the field trial sites.”

About 26 companies have joined the alliance, including telecom equipment supplier Sercomm Corp (中磊), Alpha Networks Inc (明泰科技) and Gemtek Technology Co (正文科技).

Far EasTone is also developing applications related to smart city projects and medical care, Li said.

As the National Communications Commission has not finalized the timeframe for its 5G license auction, only saying that it would be held in 2020, Far EasTone expects to launch its 5G commercial services in the second half of 2020 at the earliest, Li said.

Far EasTone said it would prioritize populous cities when deploying its 5G network.

Fixed-wireless access might be among the first batch of 5G services offered, as global peer Verizon Inc has done, it said.

The availability of handsets remains crucial to the uptake of 5G services, given limited selections and high price tags, Li said.

The first 5G mobile phones are likely to become available in the first half of next year, but they would be pricey, she said.

As for pricing, Li said the company is not thinking of offering flat rates.

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