Chunghwa Telecom to offer special rates

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, Jul 14, 2006 - Page 12

Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), the nation's largest telecom service provider, said yesterday it would soon announce a special rate package for hearing-disabled users, after a local consumer rights watchdog called on telecom operators to lower short message service (SMS) rates for these customers.

According to a recent survey by the Consumers' Foundation (消基會), hearing-disabled people make frequent use of SMS. However, the rate plans offered by telecom operators were designed for average users, and therefore penalize hearing-disabled users, the survey said.

To safeguard these consumers' rights, the foundation urged local mobile service providers to lower their SMS charges, which range between NT$1 and NT$1.3 per message, or to come up with tariff packages tailored to this group of users.

"We will come up with new rates soon to cater to the needs of hearing-disabled subscribers," Chen Chang-rong (陳長榮), a Chunghwa Telecom official, said in a phone interview.

That would make the state-run company the world's first telecom operator to offer special packages for hearing-disabled subscribers.

Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信), the nation's No. 2 mobile service provider, said yesterday it would evaluate the possibility of improving its existing tariff packages.

In the interim, Far EasTone suggested its hearing-disabled subscribers use

pre-paid cards exclusively designed for SMS transmission at NT$1 per message

within the Far EasTone network. Users of these cards do not need to pay the

additional airtime charges that apply to other packages require.