Tue, Mar 29, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Chunghwa under fire over slow service integration

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

Lawmakers on the legislature’s Transportation Committee accused the nation’s largest telecoms operator of dragging its feet in executing a plan to gradually phase out long-distance phone services and turn the nation into one fixed-line service area.

The committee passed a resolution in January asking Chunghwa Telecom to turn the outlying island of Matsu and Taipei into a single service area starting on April 1, as well as integrating the outlying islands of Kinmen, Penghu and Wuciou with the service areas in Greater Kaohsiung, Greater Tainan and Greater Taichung respectively.

ONE SERVICE AREA

It asked Chunghwa to turn the nation into one fixed-line service area and end long-distance calls within the country by the end of the year.

Chunghwa Telecom chairman Lu Shyue-ching (呂學錦) was scheduled to brief lawmakers yesterday on the company’s plan to support government disaster-relief efforts, but he was mostly grilled by legislators about the firm’s slow progress in carrying out plans to phase out long-distance phone services.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Kuo Jung-chung (郭榮宗) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) said that as Taiwan covers a small geographical area, there was no need to charge domestic long-distance fees.

While the US is 268 times larger than Taiwan, Taiwan charges between NT$1.50 and NT$2.10 per minute for long-distance calls, while US operators only charge NT$3.40, Kuo said.

Lo said that Chunghwa made NT$222.4 billion (US$7.56 billion) in revenue and NT$47.6 billion in net profit last year. While the company was privatized in 2005, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications still holds a 35 percent stake in it

“You are supposed to safeguard the interests of consumers, not make money for foreign and corporate investors,” she said.

Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said he would ask Chunghwa to quickly submit a new rate proposal before the end of the year when the nation is slated to become one large service area.

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