Group clarifies Internet issues

CONNECTION::The Consumers’ Foundation urged the government to protect the public’s right to use the Internet by preventing the cancelation of unlimited access

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Sun, Nov 25, 2012 - Page 3

While Minister Without Portfolio Simon Chang (張善政) recently stressed that unlimited Internet access services for mobile devices should be canceled to resolve Internet congestion problems, the Consumers’ Foundation said the unlimited access service is not the main cause of slow Internet connection speeds.

Earlier this month, Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) said he agreed with Chang’s suggestion and that “it’s just a matter of time” before the services are canceled.

National Communications Commission Chairman Howard Shyr (石世豪) said the commission does not have a preferred plan, and encouraged telecommunications service providers to come up with new service plans.

However, Consumers’ Foundation chairman Mark Chang (張智剛) on Friday said that an “insufficient number of base stations is the main reason for slow connection speeds, which has nothing to do with the ‘all-you-can eat’ [unlimited] mobile Internet connection services,” and the government should not confuse the public by blaming the service.

The foundation’s deputy secretary-general, Lin Tsung-nan (林宗男), said that when people connect to the Internet on their smartphones or tablet SCs, the information is transmitted through local base stations, which operate individually without competition over bandwidth.

“For example, if the highest mobile device download speed provided by a base station is 14.4Megabits per second [MBbps,] then users may experience Internet congestion when too many people using the same base station area connect to the Internet at the same time,” he said, adding that connection speed is influenced more by the number of users simultaneously using the Internet than by how much they are consuming.

Therefore, no matter how much broadband is used by users of local base station A, it still would not affect the connection speed of users at local base station B, he added.

In addition, the foundation said that according to its consumers report in July, the average Internet connection speed in Taitung County is about 0.8MBps, which is only about a half of the average speed of 1.6MBps in Taipei, providing evidence that the government’s reasoning is flawed because while there are more Internet users in Taipei, the connection speed is still faster than in Taitung.

On the issue improving Internet speed, Lin said that more free WiFi services should be provided in department stores, wholesale centers, fast food outlets and other public spaces, to help ease congestion problems.

He added that telecommunication service providers should also improve their 3G infrastructures.

The foundation urged the government to protect the public’s right to use the Internet, rather than supplying telecommunications service providers with an excuse to cancel their unlimited services or raise Internet usage fees to repress people’s desire for high-quality Internet connection.