The National Communications Commission (NCC) said it is to consult with the agencies in charge of national security to determine if local companies can use base stations produced by Chinese telecommunications equipment suppliers.
The commission made the comments after it issued operational licenses on Wednesday last week to three of the six telecom service carriers that are to launch 4G services in Taiwan, including Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile and Far EasTone Telecommunications.
Another telecom company, Ambit Microsystems, is still awaiting its license, pending the approval of the 4G network construction plan it submitted to authorities on March 11. According to the commission, Ambit’s plan involves using base stations manufactured in China.
An article published in the Chinese-language United Daily News last week reported that Ambit’s proposal involves using base stations made by Shenzhen-based Huawei Technologies Co.
According to the article, Ambit justified its planned used of stations produced by Chinese manufacturers by saying that the National Security Bureau only prohibits local telecoms from using China-made core facilities, which exclude base stations, mobile phones and network interface cards.
Security concerns over the use of Huawei equipment have been voiced in the US, UK and other countries by those who say the telecom giant’s products may have been secretly designed to allow the Chinese government and military unauthorized access to foreign networks.
In its statement, the commission said that Chinese telecom equipment manufacturers are not the only suppliers of base stations, so not using equipment made in China will not delay the establishment of domestic 4G networks.
It added that the legislature’s Transportation Committee passed a resolution last year requiring that the commission completely prohibit the use of the Chinese-made telecom equipment by the nation’s 4G operators.
“As the commission is not in charge of the national security issues, we can only abide by the resolutions made by the agencies in charge of the relevant affairs. We have officially requested these agencies to quickly come to a decision on Ambit’s proposed use of the China-made base stations,” the commission said.
In related developments, the commission has announced that it will soon issue 34 radio broadcasting licenses, including one for national broadcasting, nine for medium-power radio stations and 22 for small-power radio stations in the frequency modulation (FM) band, as well as two licenses for small-power stations operating in the amplified modulation (AM) band.
To grant the national broadcasting license and the medium-power radio station ones, the commission said it will first review the interested parties’ qualifications and then stage an auction.
The remaining licenses are to be issued through a combination of qualification reviews and a draw, it added.
The commission said it encouraged small or medium-power stations to merge to acquire the medium-power or national broadcasting licenses.
It also encouraged small-power stations to bid for medium-power permits so they can serve listeners in Hualien and Taitung counties, and outlying islands.
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