More than 1.2 million users of 3G prepaid mobile phone services are expected to benefit following the National Communications Commission’s (NCC) approval yesterday of new rate plans submitted by the three major telecoms carriers.
Based on the plans, Chunghwa Telecom would reduce the rates for local calls and for cross-net calls during regular hours by 30 percent, while Taiwan Mobile would lower the rates for two of its four prepaid service plans by an average of 10 percent.
Far EasTone Telecommunications (FET) did not make any changes to its two current prepaid plans, but would offer a new prepaid service plan with rates for local and cross-net calls during regular hours and off-peak hours that are 30 percent cheaper than one of its current plans.
Consumers should be able to enjoy the new prepaid service rates starting on April 3 after the commission finalizes its approval next week and the telecoms carriers upload the rate plans for the public to view online for seven days, the commission said.
Despite the seemingly goodwill gesture from the telecoms carriers, many question if the changes would impact on consumers, as a majority of mobile phone users in the nation are monthly plan subscribers.
Statistics from the commission showed that only about 10 percent of mobile phone users in the nation use prepaid services.
“We hope that this [lower prepaid rates] would create some pressure for competition, prompting telecoms carriers to make changes in other related service rates,” commission spokesperson Yu Hsiao-cheng (虞孝成) said. “This is just the beginning to spur the telecoms service market.”
Making service rates public and transparent would also allow consumers to see the different options available in the market, Yu said.
The rate change could affect more than 1.2 million prepaid service users, the commission said.
The commission announced last year that it would stop using price caps to regulate retail prices for mobile communication services, except for prepaid services.
It said it would continue to keep a close watch on prepaid services because these are what international organizations use to rank a country’s telecoms service rates.
Lowering prepaid service rates would raise Taiwan’s global ranking from No. 35 to No. 16, said Tsai Ping-huang (蔡炳煌), director of the commission’s planning department.
Tsai said that the commission has also reduced access fees and other intermediate costs among telecoms carriers. He added that the lower prepaid service rates should encourage telecoms carriers to also reduce monthly service rates.