New Taipei City (新北市) has become the most sought-after market among cable TV operators since the government allowed them to branch out into other service areas last year, the National Communications Commission said yesterday.
The policy of allowing cable service operators to branch out to new areas was part of the commission’s plan to terminate a monopoly in the majority of the nation’s service areas and raise services’ quality by encouraging competition among operators. A service area can be a city or a county.
The commission yesterday approved an application by Chuan Kuo Digital Cable TV Co, a newcomer in the market, to offer services in one of the nation’s five special municipalities. The commission had already approved similar applications from West Coast Cable TV Co and VeeTime. West Coast targets customers in Greater Taichung, whereas VeeTime is eyeing the market in Greater Tai-chung, as well as Nantou County.
Commission spokesperson Yu Hsiao-cheng (虞孝成) said that Chuan Kuo’s application was approved after the company made three major commitments.
He said that the company had promised that it would follow the commission’s policy in offering different “a la carte” cable service pricing plans. The company will also offer 100 Megabit-per-second (100Mbps) broadband Internet connections to its subscribers, if they request it, and will supply each subscriber with two set-top boxes free of charge.
Huang Chin-yi (黃金益), director of the commission’s communications management department, said that the company’s management team, led by Chuan Kuo chairman Hsu Chun-wei (徐君偉), was interviewed by commissioners.
“The applicant has secured the qualification to start preparing for its operations,” Huang said. “It plans to finish installing its entire infrastructure within two-and-a-half years and is scheduled to start operations in March next year.”
According to Huang, the company plans to carry out the infrastructure installation in three stages, with the first stage covering Toucheng (土城), Banciao (板橋), Jhonghe (中和) and Yonghe (永和) districts in New Taipei City.
Huang said that the company could apply to have its infrastructure inspected by the commission when it is more than 30 percent completed, adding that Chuan Kuo can only begin operating after it passes the inspection.
Huang also confirmed that the commission is still reviewing four other applications. Two of the applicants have indicated that they also aim to provide cable television services in New Taipei City.
The special municipality currently has eight service areas and 12 cable TV operators. The number of cable TV subscribers in the city is about 1.44 million. Statistics from the New Taipei City Government show that the city has a population of about 3.9 million.
Prior to his position at Chuan Kuo, Hsu was deputy general manager of Yeong Jia Leh Cable TV Co, one of the cable service systems owned by multiple-service operator Taiwan Broadband.
Yeong Jia Leh serves customers in New Taipei City’s Sinjhuang (新莊), Wugu (五股), Linkou (林口) and Taishan (泰山) districts.
Huang said that the national penetration rate of digital cable TV services has exceeded 25 percent and is showing 3 to 5 percent growth every quarter. He said the commission has planned to budget approximately NT$160 million (US$5.3 million) to boost the national penetration rate to 50 percent by the end of this year.