More than 6.43 million 3G cellphone users must migrate to the 4G network by the end of the year, when the 3G licenses are set to expire, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said.
The 3G licenses expire on Dec. 31, meaning that the service will legally terminate next year, commission spokesperson Weng Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said.
Four telecom firms offer 3G service — Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, Far EasTone Telecommunications and Taiwan Star — and there are about 22 million 4G users, the commission said.
Asia Pacific Telecom terminated its 3G service last year.
Until Dec. 31, telecoms can apply to offer 4G service on the frequencies that are currently used to provide 3G service to ensure a smooth transition, Weng said.
Frequencies assigned for 3G are in the 2,100 megahertz (MHz) band, he said.
Telecoms can offer both 3G and 4G services using the same frequency band, he added.
Users of the 3G service might also apply to switch to 4G contracts throughout the year, Weng said.
Users can apply to switch contracts in person, online or over the telephone, provided that two valid IDs are presented to their telecom carrier, he said.
Migration from 3G to 4G is expected to be smoother than the termination of 2G services last year, the commission said.
“Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, Far EasTone and Taiwan Star last year all retained ownership of their respective frequency blocks in the 2,100MHz band during the third frequency auction for 4G service,” Weng said.
“They can use part of the 4G frequencies to serve their 3G users, depending on their demands for voice communications and their numbers of 3G users,” he said.
The four telecoms are to still offer voice communication through 3G networks with the use of circuit-switched fallback technology, in which the voice and messaging services are delivered to 4G devices through the use of the global system for mobile communications or another circuit-switched network, Weng said.
These companies are likely to keep 3G technologies for some time, he said.
However, users of 3G might need to change to 4G SIM cards if they want to continue using their 3G cellphones after the telecoms’ licenses expire, he said.
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