National Communications Commission (NCC) said over the weekend that it hoped to reach a consensus with the Ministry of the Interior’s Construction and Planning Agency (CPA) soon on the possibility of having optical fiber cables laid in new buildings to facilitate the provision of a 100 megabits-per-second (Mbps) broadband Internet service to households nationwide.
Although the government had said that the coverage rate of the broadband Internet service infrastructure could reach 100 percent by the end of this year, the service’s penetration rate among consumers remains extremely low.
NCC Chairperson Howard Shyr (石世豪) said that current regulations already stipulate that there must be room reserved in newly constructed buildings for telecommunication facilities. However, he said that the regulations do not require that fiber cables be laid in the buildings.
“We hope that we can reach a common understanding with the CPA that the fiber cables could be laid all the way to the homes, called fiber to the home [FTTH],” Shyr said. “With the same facility, users can apply to have high-speed Internet service installed at their homes by whatever telecom carrier they see fit.”
While the demand for the service is the key factor to drive up the supply, Shyr said that, in terms of the development of FTTH service, the construction of the facilities should come before the demand.
“We need to build the facilities first, so they quickly meet the consumers’ demand when the demand rises,” he said. “We have probably all experienced the time when there was an explosive growth of mobile phone users, in which people had to wait a long time to receive their mobile phones. Similar situations could happen in the provision of the broadband Internet service.”
Shyr said that the commission had started regulating the intermediate costs among the telecoms carriers, rather than the retail price of the telecom service, which he said has removed the obstacles for the wider availability of broadband Internet service to customers.
“As the regulation of the retail price is lifted, telecom carriers could have more flexibility in the services they provide, depending what the demands are,” Shyr said.
Minister Without Portfolio Simon Chang (張善政) said that the construction of the broadband Internet service was like the building of national freeways. While it was the government’s job to build the national freeways, Chang said that there are other factors motivating drivers to use the national freeways. Toll fees need to be cheap and cars need to be available, he said.
“In the broadband Internet service, you need to have reasonable and affordable telecom service charges. You also need high quality and high-definition audiovisual content that can be viewed using the high-speed Internet service,” Chang said.