National Communications Commission (NCC) Chairman Chen Yaw-shyang (陳耀祥) on Thursday said he would meet with telecom executives to discuss ways to increase the penetration rate of 5G services.
The nation’s five largest telecoms launched 5G services in June last year.
The commission later estimated that the 5G coverage rate would not reach 85 percent until 2025.
However, the telecoms’ average coverage was 78 percent in August, with one provider last month reaching the 85 percent target, NCC data showed.
The Executive Yuan’s Forward-Looking Infrastructure Development Program has contributed to the funding of 5G expansions.
A survey conducted by London-based mobile analytics firm OpenSignal last month showed that Taiwan’s 5G services are highly competitive compared with other countries.
The survey showed that Taiwan ranked first among the top 15 countries in peak download speed, at 963.2 megabits per second (Mbps), and average upload speed, at 58.9Mbps.
The average download speed was 370.6Mbps, the second-fastest among the top 15, it showed.
Despite the relatively high coverage rate and fast average speed, 5G service subscribers only accounted for 12.3 percent of all mobile phone users in August.
Chen briefed members of the legislature’s Transportation Committee about the slow uptake and ways to reach more users.
Lawmakers across party lines said that unlimited data plans for 5G Internet cost three times more than 4G plans, or about NT$1,399 per month
Meanwhile, telecoms have been focusing on installing more 5G base stations in heavily populated areas, particularly in the six special municipalities, resulting in diverging quality of service in urban and rural areas, lawmakers said.
There are few applications and services that can only be accessed through 5G, they added.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said the government has earmarked NT$26.6 billion (US$949.1 million) over five years to subsidize telecoms in installing 5G base stations, with about NT$14.5 billion scheduled to be paid out this year and next year.
“We should ask telecoms to comply with the government policy of raising the 5G usage rate by giving subscribers cheaper rates at the initial stage. This will help Taiwan become a true 5G nation earlier than scheduled,” Lin said.
Chen said he and other NCC officials would meet with telecoms in two weeks to discuss issues related to 5G services.
“We understand that telecoms have the right to set prices for the services they offer, but we will communicate with them about what we have heard from users,” he said.
So far this year, the commission has received 508 complaints over 5G services, with about 43 percent since July, he said.
NCC data showed that Taiwan has 105,754 4G base stations, but only 20,596 5G base stations.
Apart from residential areas, the commission estimated that 80,000 more 5G base stations would be needed to make the service available at airports, seaports and other strategic locations, and to facilitate the development of autonomous vehicles and other applications.
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