Mon, Jan 02, 2012 - Page 2 News List

NCC looks set to regulate Wi-Fi service providers

LAWLESS NO MORE:With the number of wireless hotspots likely to hit 60,000 this year, the new rules will aim to regulate charges as well as log in procedures

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

With the number of Wi-Fi hotspots growing rapidly nationwide in recent years, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said last week it was aiming to draft rules to regulate such services within three months.

Commission spokesperson Chen Jeng-chang (陳正倉) said Wi-Fi service operators use license-free bands and are not obligated to pay license fees.

However, not only have the major telecoms operators increased the number of Wi-Fi hotspots to divert heavy traffic from the third-generation network, but type II-telecoms carriers, such as Qware Communications and 7-Eleven Telecom, have also been aggressively building hotspots, he said.

The number of hotspots could expand to between 50,000 and 60,000 this year, he said, adding that the commission would set up a cross-departmental taskforce to draft rules to regulate Wi-Fi services, which must be submitted within three months.

The commission said Chunghwa Telecom and other major operators offer free Wi-Fi services to customers who pay higher telecom rates. Type II telecom operators charge customers by the hour or by the month.

The nation lacks rules to regulate how consumers should be charged, and people have to log in using different account numbers, Chen said.

Chen said the rules would ensure that customers benefit from a more efficient use of telecom resources.

For example, Chen said Wi-Fi users should be able to log into different Wi-Fi services using one account number, adding that the taskforce would evaluate whether the proposal is viable.

Previously, Wi-Fi was regulated by the Directorate-General of Telecommunications, which was integrated into the commission in 2006.

To encourage more operators to offer Wi-Fi services, the directorate allowed them to offer the services without requiring approval first.

Operators only needed to send the directorate information regarding the number of hotspots they had built and different service rates as references.

One of the most well-known Wi-Fi services is the “WiFly” network that is operated by the Taipei City Government, which allows people in Taipei to access wireless Internet at hotspots built by Qware.

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