Taiwan Star Telecom Co (台灣之星) yesterday launched a rate plan for 4G subscribers to try its 5G technology at less than half the price of similar trial packages offered by the nation’s three biggest telecoms, signaling the possible start of a 5G price war.
With its new “early bird” packages, Taiwan Star offers subscribers two-year, 4G rate plans of at least NT$599 (US$19.94) with unlimited data that are to upgrade to 5G once services launch.
Subscribers can start the trial plan now or withhold the package until the commercial launch of 5G services in the fourth quarter, Taiwan Star said.
The NT$599 plan was first launched in Taiwan in 2014, when Taiwan Star entered the telecom market and began rolling out unconventional rate plans to sabotage the pricing schemes of the nation’s three largest telecoms.
With the new packages, it has lowered the threshold for 5G trial plans.
The nation’s major telecoms, led by Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), require users to sign up for a monthly plan of at least NT$1,399 for a free upgrade to 5G services later this year.
“There is a 50 percent chance that the price competition [will continue with 5G services],” Taiwan Star president Cliff Lai (賴弦五) told reporters. “The big telecoms are the key… We are not the price-setter in Taiwan’s telecom market.”
He urged local rivals to forgo the price war, given high 5G spectrum prices and deployment costs, and declined to comment on a NT$1,300 monthly rate proposed by the National Communications Commission.
Looking at countries that have launched 5G services, the rate plans are usually 20 to 40 percent more expensive than their 4G predecessors, Lai said.
With its “early bird” plans, Taiwan Star aims to expand its subscriber base from 2.35 million to 2.5 million users by the end of this year, he said.
Taiwan Star aims to generate more free cash from its operations to fund the construction of its 5G infrastructure and daily operations for two years after the commercial launch of 5G, he added.
Taiwan Star reported minus-NT$1.8 billion in free cash flow last year.
The company last month won 40 megahertz (MHz) of 5G spectrum in the 3.5 gigahertz frequency band at an auction for NT$19.71 billion.
Taiwan Star said that it is open to sharing spectrum with any established telecoms.
Taiwan Mobile Co (台灣大哥大), which secured the least amount of 5G spectrum — 60MHz — among the big three, is widely seen as a potential partner for Taiwan Star, which was tight-lipped about any talks about partnerships.
To finance the 5G deployment, Taiwan Star’s board of directors has approved raising NT$16 billion via three private placements.
RECORD BUDGET: TSMC does plan to raise its proposed capital expenditure a lot, and could benefit if Intel outsources more of its production to foundries, analysts said Intel Corp’s earnings conference call on Thursday is expected to clarify the US semiconductor giant’s outsourcing production plans, which would be crucial regarding Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’s (TSMC, 台積電) performance, analysts said. “TSMC stands to benefit if Intel outsources more of its fabrication to foundries,” SinoPac Securities Investment Service Corp (永豐投顧) analysts said in a note on Friday. Yuanta Securities Investment Consulting Co (元大投顧) was more cautious, saying that Intel’s contribution initially would be limited, but its outsourcing plans would still highlight TSMC’s leadership in technology, it added. “Intel will continue to manufacture server or high-end central processing units [CPUs], which have higher
MediaTek Inc (聯發科) yesterday announced it would give incentive bonuses totaling NT$1.7 billion (US$59.7 million) to its employees and those at the firm’s major subsidiaries, after the smartphone chip supplier’s revenue hit US$10 billion last year. This is the biggest incentive bonus the Hsinchu-based handset chip designer has ever distributed in its 23-year history. About 17,000 full-time employees of MediaTek and five of its subsidiaries, including Richtek Technology Corp (立錡科技) and Airoha Technology Corp (絡達科技), would receive a “red envelope” of NT$100,000 each, the company said. “Surpassing US$10 billion is just the beginning. We will continue to [grow] on this basis,” MediaTek
TO SPUR REVENUE: The contract chipmaker expects its profit to grow 15 percent this year, outpacing the foundry industry’s projected advance of about 10 percent Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) yesterday raised its projected capital spending for this year by 62 percent, a new high, in an attempt to satisfy customer demand for advanced technologies in the production of central processing units, high-performance-computing (HPC) devices and 5G applications. After investing US$17.24 billion last year, TSMC this year plans to spend US$25 billion to US$28 billion on manufacturing equipment and new facilities, including a fab in the US. About 80 percent of the budget would be allocated for developing advanced technologies including 3, 5 and 7-nanometer technologies, the company said. The larger-than-expected capital spending prompted speculation
Norway’s oil and gas reserves have made it one of the world’s wealthiest countries, but its dreams for deep-sea discovery now center on something different. This time, Oslo is looking for a leading role in mining copper, zinc and other metals found on the seabed and in hot demand in green technologies. The country could license companies for deep-sea mining as early as 2023, the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy said, potentially placing it among the first countries to harvest seabed metals for electric vehicle batteries, wind turbines and solar farms. However, that could also place it on the front line of