Most Taipei residents will be able to access broadband Internet wirelessly by the end of this year, Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (
The mayor also pledged to look into the expansion of the oversubscribed Nangang Software Park in the city's eastern suburbs to accommodate more international research and development facilities.
"As of September last year, about 90 percent of Taipei's 900,000 families have computers. More than 80 percent use the Internet. And more than 87 percent have mobile phones," Ma told members of the European Chamber of Commerce in Taipei.
"The next phase ... is to build a wireless and broadband city. We aim to finish that, or a large part of it, by the end of this year," Ma added.
Last year, global Internet researcher World Teleport Association chose Taipei as one of the top seven "intelligent communities" in the world as a direct result of Mayor Ma's "CyberCity" initiative to increase Internet access in the city.
"By focusing attention on a few key issues and marshalling government resources to address them, Taipei is transforming a high-tech industrial city into a `high-touch' city of the digital future," the association's report said.
The report also highlighted Taipei's two new industrial parks in Nangang and Neihu that are aimed at companies working on research and development in the key areas of software, data communications, mobile communications and biotechnology.
Companies in the parks generated NT$260 billion in revenue in 2002, Ma said, and he estimated the figure would surpass NT$1 trillion when the final results for last year are calculated.
"The Nangang Software Park last year completed its second phase of construction and even that is now full," Ma said. "The Taipei City Government is thinking of using the two pieces of land it has over there to build a third phase."
The co-chairwoman of the chamber's telecommunications committee welcomed Ma's pledge, but pointed out that the chamber has other priorities.
"If the Taipei city mayor can put [the wireless broadband system] together, of course it's good," said Angela Wu (
"Our priority at the moment is the negotiations between Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) and other broadband operators for the use of last-mile facilities," Wu said.
Competing companies do not have access to fixed telephone lines laid by Chunghwa Telecom and must negotiate with the former monopoly on a case by case basis to rent the lines, Wu said.
The chamber's chairman praised Ma's work as mayor of Taipei, but also highlighted different priorities for his members.
"He's doing a good job and he listens to us," chamber chairman Dirk Saenger told the Taipei Times after Ma's speech.
However, he pointed out that many European hypermarket firms still have difficulties finding city center sites for their stores due to the city's zoning laws, and he appealed to the mayor to allow European firms free access to the extension projects for the subway system and the new airport rail link.
On the negative side, Ma lamented the lack of direct transportation links from Taipei to China. Ma has lobbied for flights from the city's Sungshan airport to link directly to Shanghai.
Foreign business representatives support Ma's plan.
"Quick and efficient linkage with a cross-Strait business model would be incredibly served by city-to-city flights," said American Chamber of Commerce executive director Richard Vuylsteke, who was present for Ma's speech.
He added that direct flights would save executive time, reduce business costs, encourage more businesses and families to stay in Taipei and underscore the government's commitment on paper to being the gateway to China for international companies.
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