National Communications Commission (NCC) Chairman Howard Shyr (石世豪) said he hoped the nation’s Internet service fees would drop further before the end of the year.
Shyr made the remarks at a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee on Thursday, while briefing lawmakers on the progress in issuing 4G mobile broadband licenses.
However, lawmakers were mostly concerned about Chunghwa Telecom’s new Internet service rates for asymmetrical digital subscribers line (ADSL) as well as the fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) or fiber-to-the-building (FTTB) services that were approved by the commission last week.
In its new Internet service rates unveiled on Wednesday, the nation’s largest telecom carrier said that subscribers of the ADSL services would see their services upgraded to faster ones, while paying the same monthly fee. Those subscribing to 8M/640K would see the monthly rate drop from NT$764 to NT$754.
Subscribers to FTTH or FTTB services would see their monthly fees fall as well. The largest reduction would be seen in the 100M/100M service rate, which would drop by 23.54 percent, from NT$1,699 per month to NT$1,299.
Lawmakers were not impressed by the company’s across-the-board cuts in Internet service rates.
Chinese Nationalist Party Legislator (KMT) Luo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) said the cut was nothing to a company whose annual earnings was about the same amount as its registered capital.
“The company can enjoy a profit margin of between 80 and 90 percent,” Luo said. “It’s you [the commission] who let it enjoy such a obscenely huge profit.”
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) also questioned the commission’s ability to protect consumers’ interests, adding that the nation’s 100M/100M service remains the second-most expensive one in the world, after only the US.
He also questioned the effectiveness of the commission’s policy to regulate the access fees and other intermediate costs among telecom carriers, which the commission said would subsequently reduce retail mobile phone charges.
Though the commission reduced the intermediate costs by about 14 percent, Lee said that only about 1 million users would benefit from such a change in policy, which is roughly about 3 percent of all mobile phone users in the nation.
DPP Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said Chunghwa seemed to have made a rather generous offer by cutting the rate for 100M/100M service by about 23 percent, but less than 1 percent of its customers subscribe to the service.
Tsai said more people subscribe to relatively slow Internet services, such as 12M or 50M, but the rate-cuts for these services were lower than those for high-speed services. Considering that many countries no longer offer these lower-speed services, Tsai said that Internet service in Taiwan was more expensive.
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