Telecom equipment supplier Ericsson AB yesterday said it expects Taiwan to ramp up 5G services faster than Europe once the nation’s 5G spectrum is auctioned, thanks to its strong position in the communications components manufacturing supply chain.
The Swedish company made the comments in response to concerns that Taiwan might lag behind other advanced countries in the commercial launch of 5G networks as it did in the 4G era, when it only made 4G services available in 2014, four to five years after the world’s first 4G network had been launched.
However, that seemed not to worry Ericsson Taiwan Ltd president Chafic Nassif.
“Taiwan has an industry that manufactures a lot of components. That is not the case in many countries in Europe or elsewhere,” Nassif told a media briefing in Taipei. “Here you have the possibility of creating all kinds of ecosystems. You have a better chance of rapidly achieving scale.”
Ericsson helps local manufacturers speed up the pace of putting 5G-enabled devices on the market — including mobile phones, chips and routers — by testing their interoperability at its Taiwan-based Interoperability Center, the company’s only 5G testing lab in Asia.
MediaTek Inc’s (聯發科) new M70 5G chipset and routers from Askey Computer Corp (亞旭電腦) and Wistron NeWeb Corp (啟碁科技) have been adopted for more trials by local telecoms after completing interoperability tests at the lab.
“Taiwan is getting ready and I have a good feeling that 5G will be here in Taiwan next year, thanks to the many initiatives that have been planned by local telecoms even before December’s 5G spectrum auction,” Nassif said.
The National Communications Commission plans to auction 2,790 megahertz (MHz) of bandwidth for 5G services, including 270MHz in the 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) band, 2,500MHz in the 28GHz band and 20MHz in the 1,800MHz band.
The commission has not yet set the floor price.
In Asia, South Korea took the lead by rolling out 5G services in April. As of the middle of last month — in just three months — the country’s telecoms signed up 1.65 million 5G subscribers, Ericsson said, citing statistics from Open Signals.
South Korea took in about US$2.99 billion in its 5G spectrum auction in the summer of last year.
Ericsson expects that the number of global 5G users would reach 1.9 billion by 2024.
“I’m not saying that Taiwan is lagging behind,” Peter Fung (馮家輝), head of networks for Ericsson in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, told reporters.
Taiwan has shown a readiness to embrace 5G services, given its high data usage — 20 gigabytes per month, one of the highest in the world — and its tech-savvy mobile users, Fung added.
Ericsson, which has secured 47 contracts from telecoms worldwide, is collaborating with Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信) and Asia Pacific Telecom Co (亞太電信) in the deployment of their 5G networks.
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