Taiwan Mobile Co (台灣大哥大) has called on the government to release more of the main 5G spectrum, rather than allocating rarely used bands, during the next wave of auctions, to increase the availability of 5G and avoid another WiMAX fiasco.
The telecom’s remarks came as the Cabinet plans to auction off the n79 band of the 5G spectrum over the next two to three years to give local telecoms more bandwidth for the construction of 5G networks.
“Don’t repeat the WiMAX fiasco,” Taiwan Mobile president Jamie Lin (林之晨) told a 5G forum held by the Taiwan Communications Society (台灣通訊學會) on Tuesday.
In the fight over 4G wireless technologies, the government backed WiMAX technology instead of long-term evolution.
The National Communications Commission in 2013 auctioned bands of the 4G spectrum that would facilitate the development of WiMAX, but the technology was not broadly adopted and WiMAX operators exited the local market.
The wrong turn caused Taiwan to lag behind the world’s major economies in rolling out 4G services, and resulted in tens of billions of New Taiwan dollars in losses in the telecom industry and related sectors, Lin said.
If Taiwan wants to maintain its position among the leading countries introducing 5G, then the “n79 band might not be a very good option,” Lin added.
Like WiMAX, the n79 band is rarely used by global telecoms to build 5G networks, Lin said, adding that the government should adopt a “practical” approach by first auctioning the more widely used n78 and n77 bands.
However, the bands are licensed to government agencies, satellite networks and cable TV operators, requiring the government to move those licensees to other bands, which would cost taxpayers, he said, adding that the multibillion-dollar cost of reallocation is preferable to the tens of billions of dollars in losses resulting from adopting the n79 band.
The commission is undecided about whether to reallocate the two bands National Communications Commission Vice Chairman Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said.
Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信) president Chee Ching (井琪) and Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) president Harrison Kuo (郭水義) said that bidding on more 5G bands would be premature, as local telecoms invested NT$142.12 billion (US$4.88 billion) in 5G licenses and bandwidth in the first wave of auctions in February.
Far EasTone and Chunghwa Telecom should focus on increasing 5G availability and developing 5G-enabled applications, they said.
Chunghwa Telecom said that it needs to sell corporate bonds and raise NT$30 billion to fund the deployment of its 5G network, after spending its cash on 4G and 5G licenses and bandwidth.
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