NCC says all 4G hopefuls qualified to submit bids

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE::NCC spokesman Yu Hsiao-cheng said interviews had shown the bidders have ambition and vision about the future of 4G in Taiwan

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Aug 14, 2013 - Page 4

The National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday that all seven candidates for fourth-generation (4G) telecommunication service licenses are qualified to bid after having passed an initial review.

Commission spokesperson Yu Hsiao-cheng (虞孝成) said that bidding for the 4G licenses is scheduled to commence on Sept. 3, adding that the commission hoped that the bidding process would be completed by the end of next month.

The qualified bidders are: Chunghwa Telecom; Asia Pacific Telecom; Taiwan Mobile; Far EasTone Telecommunications (FET); Ambit Microsystems Corp, a unit of Hon Hai Group and companies backed by Ting Hsin International Group and Shinkong Group.

Yu said the committee reviewing the bidders’ qualifications comprised nine independent experts. The review took place on Monday, when candidates were interviewed to get a detailed overview of their 4G service plans.

Prior to the interview, the committee had also held meetings to review written proposals.

“They [the bidders] all seemed to be well prepared for the interview and have both ambition and vision about the future of the 4G service,” Yu said. “All of them scored above 76 points, the passing grade for the interview. This is a very good news. We are glad to see corporations keen to enter the mobile communication sector, which is also good news for consumers.”

The government decided last year that it would release a total of 270MHz of radio frequencies in the 700MHz, 900MHz and 1,800MHz spectrums for 4G services.

Most of the frequency blocks in 900MHz and 1,800Mhz, however, are used by operators offering the Global System for Mobile Communications service, also known as second-generation (2G) network.

Based on the commission’s rules, a bidding unit contains 5MHz. Each bidder can bid for no less than 10 MHz and no more than 35MHz, and the rules apply to both upstream and downstream spectrums. The commission estimated four to seven 4G licenses could be issued.

The commission set the base bid level at NT$35.9 billion (US$1.2 million), but the industry expects that total bids could exceed NT$50 billion, as the auction for third-generation (3G) licenses generated NT$48.9 billion.

Yu said that current 2G operators can upgrade to 4G if they succeed in keeping frequency blocks through the bidding. If any of the 2G frequency blocks is won by a new telecom carrier and the current user is unwilling to return the frequency blocks early, then the carrier would have to wait until June 30, 2017, when the 2G license is scheduled to expire.