Fri, Jan 17, 2020 - Page 1 News List

Bids surpass NT$138bn in first phase of 5G auction

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

An attendee holds a Galaxy Fold 5G phone at the Samsung booth during the CES tech show on Jan. 7 in Las Vegas.

Photo: AP

The first phase of the nation’s first 5G auction ended yesterday after 27 days and 261 rounds of bidding, with the total bids topping NT$138.08 billion (US$4.61 billion), the National Communications Commission (NCC) said.

The amount, which was about 4.6 times more than the floor price, was the world’s third-highest, the commission said.

Italy raised 6.55 billion euros (US$7.31 billion) in its first 5G auction in 2018 and Germany obtained 6.5 billion euros in its auction last year, it said.

The frequency bands on auction were 1.8 gigahertz (GHz), 3.5GHz and 28GHz.

However, all of the telecoms targeted the 3.5GHz frequency band, of which a total of 270 megahertz (MHz) of bandwidth was placed on auction. The floor price for bandwidth in the 3.5GHz band was NT$24.3 billion.

Chunghwa Telecom (中華電信) secured 90MHz of bandwidth in the 3.5GHz band, followed by Far EasTone Telecommunications (遠傳電信) with 80MHz. Taiwan Mobile (台灣大哥大), Taiwan’s second-largest telecom, only secured 60MHz of bandwidth in the band and Taiwan Star Telecom (台灣之星) obtained 40MHz.

Asia Pacific Telecom (亞太電信) yesterday withdrew its bid for bandwidth in the band.

Bids for 3.5GHz bandwidth totaled NT$136.43 billion.

There was a total of 2.5GHz of bandwidth available in the 28GHz frequency band, but carriers only bid for 1.6GHz.

Chunghwa Telecom secured 600MHz and Taiwan Mobile obtained 200MHz, while Far EasTone and Asia Pacific Telecom garnered 400MHz each. Taiwan Star did not bid for the bandwidth in this frequency band.

Bids for bandwidth in the 28GHz frequency band totaled NT$1.65 billion.

The 1.8GHz frequency band failed to attract any bids, the commission said.

All five carriers are to participate in the second phase of the auction on Feb. 21, when they would negotiate for their preferred portions of the frequency bands in the morning, it said.

Should they fail to reach an agreement, they would enter one final round of bidding in the afternoon before the auction is concluded, it added.

The bids far exceeded the projected goals set by the Executive Yuan and the Legislative Yuan of NT$40 billion and NT$44 billion respectively, NCC Acting Chairman Chen Yaw-shyang (陳耀祥) said.

However, the government has administrative measures to ensure that consumers enjoy “high-quality and affordable” 5G services, he said.

The Cabinet would hold an interdepartmental meeting to discuss the distribution of the excess proceeds from the auction, such as upgrading telecom infrastructure and developing innovative services, he added.

Asked about Asia Pacific Telecom withdrawing its bid for 3.5GHz bandwidth, which allowed the first phase to end yesterday, Chen said that the commission respects the company’s decisions, adding that telecoms would be able to flexibly form partnerships with each other after the agency starts enforcing the Telecommunications Management Act (電信管理法) in July.

The act, which was promulgated by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in June last year, only states the principle that resources should be used efficiently and that there is fair competition in the telecom service market, NCC Department of Platforms and Businesses Director Wang De-wei (王德威) said.

Under this principle, telecoms are allowed to share their frequency spectrum or lease it from other carriers, Wang said, adding that they must first indicate such details in their business plans.

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