Thu, Dec 08, 2011 - Page 2 News List

NCC says hands tied in 4G debate

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday said that the predicament facing WiMAX operators could only be resolved through the “wisdom of higher authorities,” but the commission would try to help operators within the limits of the law.

“So far, the commission has not made any progress in solving the problems facing WiMAX service providers,” NCC spokesperson Chen Jeng-chang (陳正倉) said amid criticism from legislators on Monday, who accused the commission of passivity in pushing the development of 4G wireless services.

They said Taiwan had fallen behind other Asian countries in the development of 4G technology.

The UN’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) recognizes both WiMAX and Long Term Evolution (LTE) as technologies for providing 4G services. LTE currently dominates the market, but Taiwan has primarily adopted WiMAX.

Chen said that among the countries that rely on LTE technology, 15 percent use the 700 megahertz (MHz) radio band, 70 percent the 2.6GHz and 15 percent the 900/1,800MHz band.

Taiwan is considering reorganizing several radio bands to develop 4G services, Chen said, but most radio bands are currently in use, mainly by the Ministry of National Defense.

“Once we take back the band used by the ministry in 2013, the 108MHz will be freed up to develop 4G services,” he said.

He added, however, that “if 4G [services] require transmission speeds of 100 megabits per second for high-mobility communication and 1 gigabit per second for low-mobility communication [as defined by the ITU], then it would need at least 100MHz, which would leave room for only one operator to offer 4G services.”

The 2.6GHz radio band is mainly used by WiMAX operators, leaving only two non-continuous blocks of 65MHz and 35MHz respectively. The 900/1,800MHz band is used by 2G and 3G service operators.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications is in charge of planning and synchronizing the nation’s bandwidth spectrum, while the NCC is only responsible for executing the plan laid out by the ministry, Chen said.

The number of the 4G licenses that could be made available as well as what the nation would do with WiMAX operators, who have yet to turn a profit, can only be solved through interdepartmental negotiations, Chen said.

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