Thu, Apr 24, 2014 - Page 4 News List

PHS numbers not yet portable: NCC

WAIT AND SEE:The commission said the migrating of PHS numbers, or not, depends on whether the service provider decides to continue with the service after 2016

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Whether the portable number scheme should also apply to the personal handy-phone system (PHS) has yet to be decided, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday.

The PHS became a popular telecom service in Taiwan years ago, when there were concerns about the impact of electromagnetic waves on human health. It was particularly popular among healthcare professionals, as the use of a PHS service did not disrupt the operations of medical appliances.

First International Telecom Corp is the nation’s only PHS operator. The company at one point had about 1.5 million users. The number of PHS users has shrunk dramatically due to the rising popularity of smartphones.

Tsai Kuo-tung (蔡國棟), a specialist with the commission’s communication management department, said that First International’s license is scheduled to expire on April 16, 2016. According to government regulations, the company should file an application in October next year if it wants to renew the license, he said.

If the company seeks to terminate the service, it is supposed to file an application in that regard in January 2016, Tsai added.

First International is the only telecom operator using the 1,900 megahertz frequency band. Whether the company will be allowed to renew its license depends on how it plans to continue the service and if there is a change in the frequency band use policy laid out by the Executive Yuan, Tsai said.

Asked whether PHS customers can keep their numbers and migrate to a 4G telecom service, Tsai said that the nation’s number portable policy does not apply to PHS customers at the moment.

The commission would have to see what the company decides to determine what it can do protect customers’ interests, he added.

In other developments, the commission added new rules to the service contracts of 4G telecom service providers. Telecom carriers should reduce customers’ monthly charges or offer them compensation of a comparable value if the telecom service is disrupted or is out of order for more than 12 hours due to natural disasters, wars or any other reason beyond the carriers’ control.

In addition, carriers must start calculating the duration of any service disruption upon receiving complaints from their customers, and the customers should be refunded based on the amount of time that they were affected by a malfunctioning system. Each customer is entitled to compensation comparable to one-thirtieth of the monthly charge per day of interrupted service.

Meanwhile, telecom carriers should switch unused data transmission volumes on prepaid Internet service cards into calling fee credits, the commission said.

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