NCC approves mergers of telecom firms

NCC approves mergers of telecom firms

Far EasTone thanked the NCC for giving it the green light

The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday approved mergers between Taiwan Mobile and Taiwan Star, and between Far EasTone Telecommunications and Asia Pacific Telecom (APT) after a nearly one-year review, provided Taiwan Mobile and Far EasTone dispose of excess bandwidth acquired through the mergers by the end of June next year.

The mergers still have to be approved by the Fair Trade Commission, the NCC said.

Taiwan Mobile and Far EasTone must also complete administrative procedures at the Ministry of Digital Affairs, the Securities and Futures Bureau and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, it added.

Regulations require the telecom to dispose of the extra 10MHz of bandwidth.

Following its merger with APT, Far EasTone would accumulate excess bandwidth of 13MHz at frequency bands below 3GHz, excess of 3MHz between the 3GHz and 6GHz bands, and excess of 160MHz at bands above 24GHz, the NCC said.

Taiwan Mobile and Far EasTone can voluntarily return the excess bandwidth to the government, or transfer it to or exchange it with telecoms that are not its subsidiaries, associates and business partners, the commission said.

Telecoms that fail to dispose of excess bandwidth and use it illegally may fined between NT$500,000 and NT$5 million (US$16,484 to US$164,837), the NCC said.

Taiwan Mobile and Far EasTone have agreed to the other conditions set by the commission for the mergers, NCC Deputy Chairman Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said.

By 2027, the two telecoms must raise their 4G coverage rate to 99 percent and 5G coverage rate to 98 percent, Wong said, adding that their 5G coverage rate in rural areas must be raised to 95 percent.

Both are committed to spending a total of NT$60 billion over the next four years to build network infrastructure using the increased bandwidth, he said.

Far EasTone would receive 2.07 million APT service subscribers through the merger, while Taiwan Mobile would receive 2.69 million Taiwan Star service subscribers, Wong said.

“Far EasTone and Taiwan Mobile have pledged that existing APT and Taiwan Star subscribers can continue accessing telecom services based on contracts they signed with their respective carriers until Dec. 31 next year. Changing SIM cards will not be necessary,” Wong said.

“Taiwan Star in 2019 offered some customers unlimited 4G services for only NT$199 per month, which is valid throughout their lives. They will continue to access the 4G services at the low monthly fee until the 4G license expires in 2033,” he said.

Taiwan Mobile and Far EasTone must offer services to Taiwan Star and APT subscribers indiscriminately, Wong said.

“They must continue providing diverse service plans to subscribers, particularly users who are economically disadvantaged, physically challenged or from medium to low-income families,” he said.

The two telecoms must strive to minimize the digital divide by installing more base stations in rural areas, Wong said.

“We also hope that Taiwan Mobile and Far EasTone can be more transparent in terms of their median sales prices and pricing strategies to help draw more service providers into the market,” he said. “They should expand the vertical applications of 5G by using the technology to build private networks for corporations.”

The two telecoms are committed to saving a total of 1.6 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually following the mergers, and spending NT$3.2 billion on digital inclusion projects over the next four years, Wong said.

Taiwan Mobile said that the commission’s ruling is “regrettable,” as it cannot possibly integrate networks with Taiwan Star in 18 months.

“This shows that current regulations cannot address challenges in the new era after the mergers of telecoms. We will let our board of directors decide what to do next,” the telecom said.

Far EasTone thanked NCC commissioners for approving its merger with APT.

“We respect the NCC’s ruling, and will submit an application for a merger with the Fair Trade Commission,” Far EasTone said.

Business and Company
News Type
  • 體面的工作和經濟增長
  • 促進目標實現的夥伴關係en

TAIPEI TIMES By Shelley Shan / Staff reporter

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