The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday defended a cap on the amount of bandwidth that each telecom can obtain in a 5G spectrum auction in December, saying the mechanism is in place to ensure fair competition.
The government plans to release 2,790 megahertz (MHz) of bandwidth for 5G services — 270MHz in the 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) frequency band, 2,500MHz in the 28GHz frequency band and 20MHz in the 1,800MHz frequency band — the commission said.
The bandwidth in the 3.5GHz frequency band is expected to be highly sought after, as most countries use it to develop their 5G networks.
As such, the commission has stipulated that each telecom can obtain no more than 100MHz in the 3.5GHz frequency band.
Taiwan Star representative Wang Chun-yi (王俊亦) has told an NCC hearing that consumers can have access to reasonable telecom service fees only when there is competition in the market.
He said that the bandwidth cap for the 3.5GHz frequency band should be 70MHz to 80MHz, rather than 100MHz, adding that this is the only way to guarantee that there are four telecoms in the market.
Even though the NCC encourages telecoms to share bandwidth and networks as well as co-build cell stations to reduce operational costs, Wang said no major carrier would want to work with smaller telecoms if the latter has less than 40MHz to develop 5G network.
Far EasTone Telecommunications representative Hsiao Ching-teng (蕭景騰) said the company hopes the commission will limit the funds raised through the auction of the blocks in the 28GHz frequency band to a reasonable amount, as technology and equipment for the band has yet to mature.
NCC Planning Department Director Wang De-wei (王德威) said the auction would proceed by first dividing the bandwidth into smaller units, with each unit consisting of 10MHz.
The nation’s three major telecoms — Chunghwa Telecom (中華電信), Taiwan Mobile (台哥大) and Far EasTone — would need to spend a large amount of money in the auction to prevent a fourth carrier from obtaining any bandwidth.
“The question about a fourth carrier is not whether it would get any spectrum from the auction. Rather, it is whether the carrier would get the amount of bandwidth it wants. In terms of bandwidth in the 3.5GHz frequency band, if each telecom gets 70MHz through the auction, the fourth carrier can garner 60MHz by only paying the floor price. This is not reasonable either,” Wang said.
Heads of the nation’s five telecoms yesterday met with NCC Acting Chairman Chen Yao-hsiang (陳耀祥) and NCC commissioners to discuss the auction.
Far EasTone chairman Douglas Hsu (徐旭東), who is also the chairman of the Taiwan Telecommunications Industry Development Association, said telecoms have expressed their hope that the government will limit the funds raised through the auction to a reasonable amount, as the firms recently spent a total of NT$174.8 billion (US$5.55 billion) in three 4G auctions.
NCC spokesperson Hsiao Chi-hung (蕭祈宏) said the commission has agreed to consider lowering the frequency usage fees to facilitate partnerships between the telecoms and 5G vertical application developers.
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