The National Communications Commission (NCC) is scheduled to hold an administrative hearing on Monday in a bid to solve the controversy over Asia-Pacific Telecom’s (APT) proposed merger with Ambit Microsystems and its roaming agreement with the Taiwan Mobile.
Fourth-generation telecom service operators had filed a joint complaint questioning the legality of the APT-Taiwan Mobile roaming deal.
Roaming is defined as allowing one carrier to continue servicing its customers in out-of-service areas by using the networks of other carriers. An investigation by the commission found that instead of increasing the number of its base stations in accordance with its business plan, APT had been using Taiwan Mobile’s network to serve clients in its service area, which does not meet the definition for roaming.
The commission also found that although it had not yet approved the APT-Ambit merger, APT had begun using Ambit’s core network.
The commission first fined APT and Taiwan Mobile NT$600,000 each for using a system not listed in their business plans and for failing to report the roaming partnership to the commission.
It also fined APT and Ambit NT$300,000 each.
As these controversies affect other 4G carriers and service providers, such as WiMAX operators, the commission said it would focus on two issues at the hearing.
First are the obligations required for each carrier in a merger before they can secure approval from the commission. Specifically, the commission wants to determine if carriers should offer more base stations, wider service coverage, faster transmission speeds, larger service capacity and more efficient use of the frequency than the commitments they have listed in their business plans before a merger is allowed to proceed.
The other issue relates to the problems that a carrier encounters if it employs a different core network system from the one listed in its business plan after it is granted a license. As an example, the commission said it wanted to stipulate the procedures that a carrier must follow if it decides to change from voice over long-term evolution system to the circuit-switch fallback system.
The agenda set by the commission for the administrative hearing is likely to disappoint some carriers, which want it to include other issues, such as whether there should be a lockup period after a frequency auction barring the trading of frequency blocks among carriers.
Some carriers also want the commission to specify requirements for carriers applying for a merger, in case some carriers obtain the spectrum first and then merge with one another to monopolize ownership of a spectrum.
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