Taiwan’s 5G penetration rate still remains below 25 percent after the cellular network services were launched two years ago due to a lack of “killer” applications, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday.
The penetration rate of 4G services reached 27.7 percent one year after their launch in May 2014, NCC statistics showed. By January 2016, the number of 4G service subscribers had exceeded those of 3G services, and by May 2016, the 4G penetration rate had topped 62.3 percent.
However, the penetration rate of 5G services, which were launched in July 2020, had reached 13 percent by June last year and 24.46 percent by last month. Telecoms in Taiwan estimated that the 5G penetration rate could top 30 percent by the end of this year.
Taiwan’s 4G and 5G services were launched under different circumstances, NCC Vice Chairman and spokesperson Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) told reporters at the commission’s weekly media briefing.
“The rapid migration from 3G services to 4G services was boosted by the popularity of smartphones, which in turn created demand for faster mobile Internet services,” Wong said.
“When it was time to upgrade to 5G services, most of the 4G users had been used to unlimited data services by paying only NT$599 or NT$699 per month. The 5G system might offer subscribers faster Internet access, but without ‘killer’ applications, it would take a while for 5G penetration rates to rise,” he said.
However, Taiwan’s 5G penetration rate is one of the highest in comparison to those of Japan, South Korea, China and the US, Wong said.
Subscribers of 5G services in South Korea, which launched 5G services in 2019, accounted for 45 percent of the country’s population as of May, Reuters reported.
In 2020, a report published by a South Korean lawmaker showed that more than 560,000 telecom users downgraded from 5G services to 4G services.
Since 2020, the NCC has spent approximately NT$15.5 billion subsidizing telecoms to build base stations for 5G services and assist businesses in building private networks using the 5G system, it said, adding that the funding came from a budget earmarked for the Forward-Looking Infrastructure Development Project.
Taiwan currently has 5,335 5G base stations, with 5G signal covering 95.56 percent of the nation’s population. Its coverage exceeds the previous goal of reaching 60 percent of the population, NCC data showed.
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