Thu, Dec 18, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Consumers’ Foundation calls for lower cell charges

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Consumers’ Foundation yesterday urged the nation’s telecom providers to further lower charges for second-generation (2G) mobile phone services, saying that customers had to pay more for 2G services than in other Asian countries.

The foundation referred to the results in a survey that compared Taiwan’s 2G services charges with those of China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.

Hong Kong has the lowest charges at NT$1.17 per minute for calls within the same network and NT$0.97 for calls to different networks, while text-messaging services are offered free of charge within the same network, figures provided by the foundation showed.

Japan has the highest mobile phone charges at NT$15.3 per minute for calls within the same network, as well as for those calling to other networks, the foundation said.

The survey also showed that both Taiwan and Hong Kong have mobile phone usage rates exceeding 100 percent.

Users in Taiwan, however, are charged 1.3 times more than those in Hong Kong for voice communications and text-messaging services. And Hong Kong’s income per capita is 1.8 times higher than that in Taiwan.

The survey used Chunghua Telecom’s (中華電信) 2G service plan as an example.

To match services in Hong Kong, Chunghwa would have to lower its charge for calls within the same network from NT$4.8 to NT$3.51 per minute, which is about 30 percent, the foundation said.

To spend only 0.5 percent of their income on mobile phone services, as is the case for people in Singapore and Hong Kong, Taiwan’s telecom firms must decrease their service charges by 44 percent, the foundation survey said.

Foundation representatives also visited officials of the National Communications Commission (NCC) and presented their survey results.

In response, NCC spokesperson Lee Ta-sung (李大嵩) said the commission had already asked the nation’s telecom companies to lower their service charges by 4.88 percent each year for three years from last year to next year.

The plan will expire next year and the commission will evaluate its effectiveness, he said.

The commission, however, said that Taiwan and Hong Kong used different standards to set the service charges. Taiwan’s telecom services only charge callers and do not charge those receiving phone calls. In Hong Kong, callers and receivers share the charges.

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