NCC pushes lawmakers to approve telecoms bill

RESTRICTIONS::Failure to pass a telecommunications management act before the session ends would greatly limit the development of 5G services, the NCC said

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Thu, May 16, 2019 - Page 2

The nation’s planned release of 5G licenses at the beginning of next year would be affected if lawmakers do not pass a draft telecommunication management act this legislative session, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday.

The commission in late March secured preliminary approval for the bill from the legislature’s Transportation Committee, Department of Legal Affairs Acting Director Huang Wen-che (黃文哲) said.

Lawmakers resolved the disagreements over only a few articles during cross-caucus negotiations on April 26, he added.

As the legislative session is to wrap up at the end of this month, the commission hopes that the draft act would be passed at a plenary session, Huang said.

“If lawmakers do not pass the draft act before this legislative session ends, we would have to stipulate rules for releasing 5G licenses based on the current Telecommunications Act (電信法), which states that telecom networks can only be built by telecom service carriers. Meanwhile, frequency bands cannot be traded or used in a more flexible manner. These two restrictions in the current act would greatly limit the development of 5G services,” Huang said.

Telecoms would be required to submit a preliminary business proposal before they can participate in 5G frequency band auctions, commission officials said, adding that that would help allay their uncertainty over 5G business prospects if the bill is passed.

Regarding the disagreements over the articles, Huang said that some lawmakers had hoped that the draft act would allow police and emergency responders to check telephone records of individuals to provide emergency assistance.

During the negotiations, lawmakers agreed that emergency responders can obtain private information about individuals as long as they follow the regulations stipulated in the Personal Information Protection Act (個人資料保護法) and agreed that a similar clause does not need to be repeated in the draft act, he said.

The Telecommunications Act requires telecoms engineers to join a pertinent telecommunications engineering enterprise association after they obtain their licenses, Huang said.

However, the draft act would require them to join a pertinent association without specifying that they have to join a telecommunications engineering enterprise association, he added.

Lawmakers had previously wanted to charge radio frequency utilization fees based on usage instead of a fixed fee, as they feared that consumers would have to pay more to access 5G services, Huang said.

“We have assured the lawmakers that we would review how the radio frequency utilization fees should be charged each year based on the progress telecoms make in network constructions and how they use the frequency bands,” he said, adding that lawmakers accepted the commission’s explanations.