Consumers could soon expect lower mobile communication service rates after the National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday that it would start asking telecoms carriers to lower access fees next year.
However, the commission said it would not use price caps to regulate retail prices for mobile communication services, although lower access fees or other intermediate costs among the telecom carriers would translate into reductions in retail prices.
The commission has been capping the retail prices of the telecoms service rates of Type I Telecommunication Enterprises for the past six years, based on Article 26 of the Telecommunications Act (電信法), which applies to fixed network and mobile communication services. The commission is mandated to announce the percentage of adjustment each year, which must not exceed the annual increase rate of the Consumer Price Index.
For next year, the commission said it would only regulate the primary tariffs of telecoms carriers offering local network services and long-distance network services, including monthly fees for leased local network circuits for digital subscriber line services, as well as other services. The price cap method will be implemented for four years consecutively, with the adjustment coefficient being 5.1749 percent.
Meanwhile, the commission will not regulate communication charges for mobile service networks. However, it would regulate the monthly rental fees of mobile service networks, as well as the communication charge for prepaid systems.
Telecoms carriers, on the other hand, need not submit their mobile communication service charge for approval first.
They need only make them known through the media or their Web sites.
NCC spokesperson Yu Hsiao-cheng (虞孝成) said that an increasing number of countries have begun to switch from regulating retail service charges to managing the intermediate costs among telecoms carriers to ensure fairer competition. He said the commission decided to gradually reduce the access charge among different carriers.
The access charge will be lowered from the current charge of NT$2.15 a minute to NT$1.84 a minute next year, NT$1.57 a minute in 2014, NT$1.34 a minute in 2015 and NT$1.15 a minute in 2016, Yu said.
Though the commission adjusted only the intermediate costs and did not force telecoms carriers to lower their retail prices, Yu said the commission was confident that consumers would feel the difference.
“We have communicated with the telecoms carriers and reached a consensus that a lower intermediate cost would lead to lower retail prices as well. Just give the carriers some time and you will see,” Yu said.
NCC Department of Planning director Tsai Ping-huang (蔡炳煌) said the commission hoped to regulate the communication charge of prepaid systems to raise the international ranking of Taiwan.
The nation was ranked No. 113 out of 140 countries evaluated by the World Economic Forum (WEF) this year in terms of communication charges for mobile service.
“It [the WEF] only looked at the rates of the prepaid system, but the majority of people in Taiwan subscribe to the monthly payment system,” Tsai said.
Tsai said telecoms carriers were obligated to submit their rates for those services for which price caps are still applicable before April 1, when the policy is scheduled to take effect.