Operators of 2G telecoms services will be able to continue offering the service until 2017, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said yesterday.
The government had issued eight 2G global system for mobile communications (GSM) licenses after it amended the Telecommunications Act (電信法) in 1996, allowing operators to offer the service for 15 years. The licenses will expire either next year or in 2013.
As telecoms carriers encourage users to switch to 3G services and gear up for the introduction of 4G services, the number of 2G users has fallen sharply.
Nonetheless, “the nation still has approximately 7.9 million 2G users,” said Deng Tien-lai (鄧添來), director-general of the ministry’s Department of Posts and Telecommunications.
“To ensure a smooth transition to new generation services as well as to protect the interests of 2G users, the government will allow 2G operators to renew the license once again and continue offering the service until 2017,” Deng said.
He added that the Executive Yuan had approved the ministry’s proposal to consolidate the radio frequencies previously assigned to 2G and some of the fragmented frequencies surrounding them.
Deng said that licenses to use these frequencies would be released by the National Communications Commission before July 2015.
Operators will be granted a “technology-neutral” license, allowing them to offer 2G, 3G or next-generation services, he said.
Wang De-wei (王德威), deputy director of the commission’s operational management department, said 2G operators must bid and acquire the technology-neutral licenses if they want to offer 2G services after the current licenses expire in 2017.
Those who fail to acquire a new license must return the frequencies to the government, he said.
Deng said the technology-neutral licenses would give operators more flexibility in using the frequencies.
He added the commission could consider taking actions to encourage operators to return the frequencies, including raising the frequency use fee.