Wed, May 30, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Consumers say Taiwan sputtering on information super-highway’s slow lane

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday said it plans to publicize the preliminary results of its broadband Internet service speed test in August, following complaints from consumers that they have to tolerate slow and expensive connections to the Web.

Commission Vice Chairperson Chen Cheng-tsang (陳正倉) said the increased use of smartphones and tablet computers had contributed to the increase of 3G service users, from approximately 1.7 million in 2006 to about 21 million as of March this year. Telecom carriers, on the other hand, have been slow in reinforcing relevant infrastructure, which is why consumers have experienced slow connection speeds.

The infrastructure shortage also accounts for customer dissatisfaction with fixed Internet network services, he said, adding that the network could also be affected by factors such as service locations, as well as the time of day when users access the service.

“Consumers feel Internet services move like a turtle, but the telecom carriers said that there is nothing wrong with their services,” Chen said. “A recent survey said Taiwan ranked No. 4 globally in terms of Internet service speed, but there was another survey that said the nation was ranked 43rd. We wanted to ask an objective third party to find out which one is correct.”

Telecom Technology Center (TTC) has been entrusted with carrying out the test, which began earlier this month and is scheduled to end in November, he said. The test cost NT$20 million (US$675,000).

The test on mobile communication services would allow randomly selected consumers or volunteers to report their results using speed-testing software. Technicians at TTC would monitor the mobile communication speed at more than 600 locations, including those in five selected localities and in Taoyuan County. They would also measure the speed when users access the service using mobile devices.

For the test on fixed network services, technicians would install test-speed software on the home computers of participants and users would be asked to send encrypted results back to the TTC. Chen said the commission would soon establish an Internet service speed consultation committee to check if the TTC’s method is valid and would then compare the results with those of other countries.

Minister Without Portfolio Simon Chang (張善政) added the commission plans to conduct the same test for a further three years.

“Consumers will be able to receive detailed information about telecom carriers every year, which should motivate the carriers to improve their services,” Chang said.

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