Thu, Jun 20, 2019 - Page 12 News List

APT raising capital for 5G efforts

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Asia Pacific Telecom Co chairman Lu Fang-ming attends the company’s annual general meeting yesterday in Taipei.

Photo: Wang I-hung, Taipei Times

Asia Pacific Telecom Co (APT, 亞太電信) yesterday said that it was gearing up for the 5G spectrum auction in December and is seeking capital to fund its 5G network deployment.

The company has obtained a syndicated loan of NT$7 billion (US$223.29 million) for 5G spectrum acquisition, in addition to a license to offer applications over the high-speed wireless network, chairman Lu Fang-ming (呂芳銘) said in response to a shareholder’s question at the firm’s annual general meeting in Taipei.

The shareholder was concerned that since APT was still making losses and paying hefty depreciation and amortization costs, the 5G investment would add another financial burden.

APT “will definitely bid” for 5G bandwidth during the first round, Lu said.

Winning 5G bandwidth is a must for the company to play a role in the nation’s telecom industry, even though the bidding would be highly competitive, as only 2,709 megahertz (MHz) are on offer, he said.

The firm would risk losing its competitive edge if it does not also launch 5G services, he said.

APT is arranging another syndicated loan and preparing for the issuance of new shares to finance its 5G deployment, Lu said, declining to specify how much it would need.

The company has so far installed 20,000 small cell stations, which would be upgraded to support 5G in densely populated urban areas, Lu said.

APT has gone one step further in its 5G efforts by completing a data fiber-optical deployment nationwide to deliver data on fixed and wireless networks, he said.

The company would have a chance to get a 50MHz spectrum if bidders are restricted to 60MHz rather than 100MHz as widely speculated, Lu told reporters.

However, the National Communications Commission in the afternoon announced that the maximum range would be 100MHz, as it is considered sufficient to deliver a 5G network.

APT said that it started eking out earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in the past five months, which it expects to remain positive throughout next year.

It would take longer to begin turning a net profit, as the company still has to pay NT$4 billion per year in depreciation and amortization costs for its 4G license and equipment, it said.

APT has more than 2 million mobile subscribers.

The company last year narrowed its losses to NT$3.29 billion, from NT$4.07 billion in 2017.

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