Mon, Mar 17, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Chunghwa looks to retain mobile Web service in 4G

NEW ERA:As one of six carriers poised to upgrade to 4G services, the telecom said that to keep offering unlimited Internet at a fixed cost, it may have to set a user data cap

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Chunghwa Telecom said it is likely to continue offering unlimited mobile Internet to customers for a flat rate when it launches its 4G communication service using long-term evolution (LTE) technology.

The nation’s largest telecom said it will also enforce a “fair usage policy” to ensure that the quality of service is not compromised.

“The biggest challenge facing telecom carriers worldwide is the dramatic, continual increase in the quality of audio and visual content delivered through the Internet, what is termed as over-the-top content,” company president Shih Mu-piao (石木標) said on Friday.

“The rising popularity of instant messaging applications like LINE has slashed the revenue telecoms earn from text messaging by an average of 20 to 30 percent. Given this, it would be unsustainable to apply the business model for our 3G services it in the 4G era,” Shih said.

“However, I think it is still viable to offer customers all-you-can-eat mobile Internet at a flat rate. This service is not likely to be canceled in the 4G era, although we may have to lower the transmission speed when a user’s data transmission volume exceeds a certain amount. If this is the case, customers would be notified via text message when they are about to exceed the limit,” the Chunghwa Telecom president added.

Shih made the comments at a forum on 4G services hosted by Taoyuan-based Yuan Ze University and attended by telecom experts, government officials and the six carriers that bought the 4G service spectra in last year’s auction.

The government earned a total of NT$118.65 billion (US$3.9 billion) through the auction, about twice what it made from the sale of 3G licenses. Many observers have voiced concerns that the high prices the carriers paid to obtain the spectra would result in consumers paying more for services once the 4G transition is complete.

Shih declined to discuss what services Chunghwa Telecom plans to offer, saying the information was confidential at this point, and urged the government to let the market decide what constitutes reasonable service rates and avoid excessive intervention.

He also urged the government to make more spectra available to help develop the nation’s 4G network, citing the 2.6 Gigahertz (GHz) radio bandwidth as particularly key to the furthering of such services.

According to the National Communications Commission, the 2.6GHz radio bandwidth is mainly used by Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) service providers. The rest of the bandwidth is either idle or used by the experimental networks.

While the International Telecommunication Union recognizes LTE and WiMAX as technologies for 4G service development, the prevalence of WiMAX in Taiwan has waned since Intel Corp withdrew its investment from the service in 2010.

The nation’s six WiMAX service operators acquired their licenses in 2007, but have attracted just 120,550 subscribers as of January this year. This has led to proposals that the government facilitate the merger of the six operators so the 2.6GHz bandwidth can be used more efficiently.

Meanwhile, Taiwan Mobile Broadband assistant manager Yang Chu-huang (張据煌) said the government should strive to settle disputes among providers over Internet protocol peering charges, which will persist after 4G services are launched if they remain unresolved.

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