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Taiwanese Government Urged to Set 4G Timetable

CNA | 2012-03-11

The Taiwanese government has been urged by local telecom operators to set a clear timetable for wireless broadband development to help the country catch up with other countries in East Asia.

The operators made their appeal following reports that the Taiwanese government is likely to issue licenses for high-speed 4G wireless connectivity from July 2013 at the earliest, one to two years ahead of the original schedule.

Josephine Juan, a spokeswoman for Taiwan Mobile, one of the island's leading telecom operators, said that if the government intends to issue 4G licenses ahead of schedule it should make the development timetable clear to the public. Keeping potential participants in the 4G business well-informed is the best thing the government can do to help service providers chart their business strategies for future development, Juan said.

The government's original timetable for 4G communications development set implementation for July 2015 and commercial launch for 2017.

Taiwan Mobile chairman Richard Tsai said he urged the government to issue 4G licenses by June 2013 because wireless networking has become a lifestyle trend. Tsai cited as support for his argument an estimate by a Japanese telecom that sales in wireless networking will nearly double every year.

National Science Council head Cyrus CY Chu has warned that if Taiwan fails to speed up its development of 4G networks, it will lose its lead in the information and communications technology business. Chu said that South Korea, one of Taiwan's major competitors in the global hi-tech business, has allowed two of its telecom operators to provide 4G networking services, leaving Taiwan lagging behind.

Douglas Hsu, chairman of Far EasTone Telecommunications, said he would be delighted to see the government move up its schedule for issuing 4G licenses. But he cautioned that the technology will need support from sound infrastructure and other supplementary measures to succeed.

A representative from the local telecom business, who asked not to be named, said that local residents' opposition to the construction of base stations in their neighborhoods may pose a potential problem for telecom operators hoping to develop 4G networks. Another thorny issue will be how to price 4G services, because the fees for current fixed-line and mobile communications services are on the decline, impacting telecom operators' profitability, the representative said.

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4G is the short name for fourth-generation wireless, the stage of mobile communications that will enable things like IP-based voice, data, gaming services and high quality streamed multimedia on portable devices with cable modem-like transmission speeds. It's a successor to 2G and 3G wireless, whereby the first signified the shift from analog to digital transmissions, bringing data services like SMS and email to mobile phones for the first time, and the second refers to the advent of things like global roaming as well as higher data rates.