Asia Pacific Telecom Co (APT, 亞太電信) yesterday supported the allocation of 5G spectrum for enterprises to deploy private networks, saying that the local networking sector would benefit from the deployment.
The company’s stance differs from that of the nation’s three big telecoms — Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (FET, 遠傳電信), Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) and Taiwan Mobile Co (台灣大哥大) — which are concerned about losing their competitive edge and worried about fair competition if non-telecoms are allowed to bid for 5G spectrum at lower prices.
Most telecoms have said the future of 5G lies with enterprises rather than general consumers.
As spectrum auctions, which are scheduled to take place in December, approach, there is growing debate about whether the regulators should release a separate 5G spectrum for companies, such as manufacturers, to build local networks in factories or hospitals.
About 20 conglomerates — including Formosa Plastics Group (FPG, 台塑集團) and ASE Technology Holding Co (日月光投控), the world’s largest chip tester and packager — have asked for 5G spectrum to deploy local networks in their factories.
“I will suggest [that the regulator] release 5G spectrum to telecoms and private enterprises,” APT chairman Lu Fang-ming (呂芳銘) told a media briefing after the company demonstrated 5G-enabled applications including building inspections conducted by drones and autonomous wheelchairs.
“A decision should be made as soon as possible,” Lu said.
APT’s parent company, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密), a major assembler of Apple Inc’s iPhones, has not expressed an interest in acquiring a 5G spectrum for its own use.
“We should keep the option open and provide flexibility for enterprises to deploy their own private networks or to collaborate with telecoms [to lease 5G spectrum],” he said.
For manufacturers and hospital operators, such as FPG, which includes Chang Gung Memorial Hospital (長庚醫院), having a private network would have several advantages in terms of efficiency and security, Lu added.
As only a handful of companies can afford building their own private networks, it would not erode telecoms’ competitiveness or business as feared, he said.
Private networks are “complementary” to public networks built by telecom operators, as most companies have been using fixed private networks and public networks deployed by telecoms in their daily operations, Lu said.
It would provide an opportunity for local original design manufacturers to expand to higher-value areas by offering small-cell base stations, servers and other 5G equipment, he said.
Quanta Cloud Technology Inc (雲達科技) and Sercomm Corp (中磊) are among a slew of local manufacturers that could benefit from the increased construction of private networks, Lu said.
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