Thu, Nov 10, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Chunghwa Telecom cuts some rates

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) announced yesterday that Chunghwa Telecom cellphone users will enjoy a cheaper rate for calling landlines, starting Dec. 1.

"I have had two main goals for Chunghwa Telecom ever since I took office back in February," Hsieh said. "The first thing was to sell all the government's shares of the company and make it a purely private firm. The second was to ask the company to reduce its service rates."

Hsieh made the remarks in his opening speech to the weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday morning.

According to Hsieh, Chunghwa Telecom cellphone users calling local landline numbers will see their charges reduced by anywhere from 3 percent to 15 percent, depending on what monthly program they subscribe to.

Chunghwa Telecom said that the company is currently serving 8 million mobile phone users. According to its own research, the total amount of time these clients use their phones to call landline numbers amounts to 142 million minutes every month.

The rate-cut policy will cost the company an estimated NT$800 million (US$23.7 million) a year but the company believes it can fill the revenue gap as the cheaper rates will boost its subscriber numbers and encourage its clients to make more calls.

Hsieh's announcement was criticized, however, as interference in a private firm's policies. The government's shares in Chunghwa were sold off in August, so it is no longer a state-run firm.

Some Chunghwa employees complained that Hsieh had publicized policies that they had not planned on announcing yet.

The Chunghwa Telecom Union said that the company's board met on Tuesday morning and the rate- cut measure was not even mentioned, so the board knew nothing about the plan.

It said Hsieh's announcement had been motivated by election concerns.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Ling-san (林陵三) said yesterday that he had just approved the rate cut on Tuesday night.

"This case was submitted to the Executive Yuan first thing Wednesday morning. But I did not expect the premier to respond so quickly by announcing it during the meeting," Lin said. "But, since the premier has announced it, we will carry it out."

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