No timeline for 4G licenses: official

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Jul 18, 2012 - Page 4

The government has no timeline for issuing operational licenses for the fourth-generation (4G) telecom service, Minister Without Portfolio Simon Chang (張善政) said yesterday, adding that consumers should not expect a 4G network alone to ease mobile communication congestion.

Chang was invited to attend the Taiwan-Czech Republic Telecommunications Policies Workshop, hosted by the National Communications Commission.

The Czech Republic announced the guidelines governing its invitation to tender for 4G licenses last week. It will hold the auction for 4G licenses in November.

Asked if Taiwan should also quicken its pace to issue 4G licenses, Chang said the two nations were facing different circumstances and that Taiwan cannot replicate the Czech experience.

He said the government needs to consider several factors before it could issue 4G licenses.

“We have to look at whether the market and technology are mature,” he said. “Otherwise the operators would simply transfer construction costs to the consumers. We want to make sure the service quality is good and the price is affordable when we decide to issue the licenses.”

The nation also needs to see if it can still ease the mobile communication congestion through the third-generation (3G) network, Chang said.

He said there was ongoing development of 3.5G or 3.9G technologies and that a demand for 4G service would naturally emerge if the 3G network no longer met the needs of users.

“Consumers should also look at the congestion of the mobile communication service from a more practical perspective,” Chang added. “Whether it’s 3G or 4G, the nation still needs Wi-Fi to divert the Internet traffic.”

Chang said the government encourages telecom carriers to help construct Wi-Fi services nationwide, particularly in tourist attractions.

He said carriers could come up with various rate plans allowing their customers to access 3G network and the Wi-Fi service, though the government would also have to make sure that the Wi-Fi service would not erode the profits of 3G or 4G operators.

The government evaluates the telecom service market every three months and forecasts the trend in the next six months or a year, he said.

Teng Tien-lai (鄧添來), director of the post and telecommunication department in the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, said the Budget Act (預算法) requires the government to auction off licenses for radio frequencies.

There is no way that the government would reserve some frequencies for new telecom carriers, as the Czech government has done, Teng said.

Teng did not see a need to rush to issue 4G licenses either.

“It [Czech Republic] has to act quickly because it has Austria and Germany as neighbors, which have developed 4G network ... The solution [to Internet congestion] should be to increase the construction of base stations for 3G network,” Teng said.