The battle for control over the 4G telecommunication service market has officially begun after the National Communications Commission (NCC) confirmed yesterday that it had received applications from seven interested bidders for 4G licenses by the application deadline.
All interested bidders were required to submit their applications by 5pm yesterday, the NCC said.
Commission spokesperson Yu Hsiao-cheng (虞孝成) said that those submitting their applications were Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, Far Eastone Telecommunications (FET), Asia Pacific Telecom, Ambit Microsystems Corp and two other companies backed by Ting Hsin International Group and Shinkong Group.
“We are glad that these firms have come to bid for the frequency spectrum for 4G service, which means that they have faith in competing fairly in the nation’s mobile telecommunication market and believe that it still has potential to grow,” Yu said. “Their participation will help bring in more funding and talented individuals to the market, which in turn will generate more innovative applications and creative operational models in the market.”
Chunghwa, Taiwan Mobile and FET are currently the three dominant firms in the nation’s telecom service market. Ambit is a member of the Hon Hai/Foxconn Technology Group.
Ting Hsin is China’s largest instant noodle maker. It is also the largest private shareholder in Taipei Financial Center Corp, which owns Taipei 101.
Shinkong Group has dabbled in the nation’s banking, retail and manufacturing sectors.
To the surprise of many, 3G service operator Vibo Telecom and Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) service operator Global Mobile did not submit applications, although they had indicated their interest in doing so.
Yu said the commission is scheduled to open a total of 270 megahertz (MHz) for bidding, 135 MHz in the upstream spectrum and 135 MHz in the downstream spectrum. They are in the frequency bands of 700MHz, 900Mhz and 1,800 MHz.
Based on the commission’s rules for the bidding, a bidding unit contains 5MHz. Each bidder can bid for no less than 10 MHz and no more than 35MHz, and the rule applies to both upstream and downstream spectra. The commission estimated four to seven 4G licenses could be issued.
Yu said applicants for the bid would undergo a preliminary qualification review by a committee, formed by three commissioners and eight independent experts from different fields.
“They [members of the review committee] would make sure that the applicants have submitted all the required information and that their bid bonds or qualification review fees have been deposited in the designated bank account. Those passing the review are then qualified for bidding,” Yu said.
Yu said the commission hoped that the preliminary review would be finished by Aug. 15, adding that the entire bidding process would be concluded by the end of this year.
“We hope that 4G service could be available as soon as next year,” Yu said.
Although WilMAX and Long-Term Evolution (LTE) are both recognized by the International Telecommunication Union as technologies for the development of 4G service, the government has been criticized for betting on future WiMAX technology, rather than LTE. The former is waning after Intel pulled out its investment in WiMAX, whereas LTE is widely used by countries around the world to offer 4G service.