People subscribing to low-cost telecom service plans do not have slower Internet connection speeds than those paying higher monthly fees, a National Communications Commission (NCC) investigation found.
The commission launched the investigation after the nation’s three major telecoms — Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile and Far EasTone Telecommunications — introduced a series of low-cost plans to attract subscribers in May this year, with the NT$499 monthly plan being the most popular.
The low-cost plans sparked a purchasing frenzy that became known as “the 499 chaos.”
The telecoms also offer unlimited data plans at other prices, with monthly fees ranging from NT$699 to NT$2,699.
Some questioned if subscribers of the low-cost plan were given slower Internet connection speeds than those who pay more, the commission said.
The commission randomly selected subscribers of different unlimited data plans, reviewed the contracts they signed with their provider, and examined subscribers’ maximum download speeds, Internet resource prioritization and other parameters, it said.
It found that most of the contracts do not list the Internet speeds offered to subscribers or conditions under which certain speeds are offered, the commission said.
The telecoms do not cap maximum download speeds at 21 megabits per second or slower, the commission said, adding that Internet speeds accessed by NT$499 monthly plan subscribers are no different to those of more expensive plans.
“It is our understanding that people subscribing to the NT$499 plan are mostly existing subscribers, who used to pay high monthly fees for unlimited data plans. If their Internet habits do not change dramatically, the increase of low-cost unlimited data plan subscribers would have a very limited impact on the overall service quality experienced by all users,” the commission said.
Even though the telecoms offer the same mobile Internet transmission speeds for users of different unlimited data plans, the commission said that the actual speeds accessed by users would still be affected by a number of factors, including the number of people sharing a mobile phone base station at any given time, a person’s cellphone specifications and the environment.
To ensure that consumers have access to quality Internet services and that telecoms fully disclose their user agreement information, the commission has entrusted the Telecom Technology Center with the task of measuring the mobile Internet services offered by telecoms, in both fixed locations and on transportation, it said, adding that the findings would be made public.
Relevant regulations would be amended to require all telecoms to disclose the Internet download speeds of their services, as well as the conditions under which certain services are provided, the commission said.
Telecoms should speed up the installation of advanced telecommunications infrastructure in view of the rising demand for mobile Internet access and the development of 5G services, the commission said, adding that government agencies should be encouraged to free up some of their property for more base stations.
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