Taiwan’s No. 1 telecom operator reaffirms 4G plan

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Jul 02, 2013 - Page 13

Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), the nation’s top telecommunications operator, yesterday said it would complete the infrastructure in time to launch fourth-generation (4G) services by the end of next year, as it originally planned.

The remarks indicated that the telecom operator will be vying strongly for a 4G license at the upcoming 135 Megahertz (MHz) bandwidth auction that is expected to put at least NT$50 billion (US$1.66 billion) in state coffers.

The estimated proceeds are about one-and-a-half times higher than the NT$35.9 billion floor price set by the National Communications Commission (NCC) and higher than NT$48.9 billion for the third-generation (3G) network license in 2003.

“It is now necessary for teleco m companies to have a 4G license to cope with the soaring volume of data traffic,” Chunghwa Telecom president Shih Mu-piao (石木標) said.

It will cost between NT$20 billion and NT$30 billion to build all the infrastructure needed for the 4G, or Long-Term Evolution (LTE), network, Chunghwa Telecom said.

The initial investment would be less than the NT$12 billion the telecom operators spent on its 3G network as the price of base stations have been coming down as the technology devalues, Shih said.

Chunghwa Telecom is also considering joining the second-round bandwidth auction to expand its bandwidth for Internet connection since the 35MHz ceiling is considered insufficient to deliver high-speed data transactions of 100 Megabytes (MBs) per second, Shih said.

The telecom firm said it plans to expand its range of services packages to provide more options in terms of monthly fee and bandwidth.

The company declined to reveal that if it would consider scrapping long-term flat rates when it launches its 4G service.

“We will consider that option if the service packages generate a certain level of revenue after construction costs are deducted,” Lin Kuo-feng (林國豐), president of Chunghwa Telcom’s mobile business group, said yesterday.

The company also said it aims to double its number of broadband subscribers using the 100Mb package to 300,000 by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Chunghwa Telecoms’ smaller rival Vibo Inc (威寶電信) said it has decided not to join the bidding war as it originally planned, but said it would be open to collaborate with any new 4G entrants.

WiMAX operators Global Mobile Corp (全球一動) and Vee Time Corp (威達雲端電訊), both of which are in the red, said they have also decided to focus on network deployment.

The two WiMAX companies said they are hoping to have the possibility to shift to wireless TD-LTE technology next year.