LTE won't debut in Taiwan until 2017: NCC

Nicole McCormick
15 Apr 2010

LTE won’t become a commercial reality in Taiwan for at least another seven years, according to Taiwan’s regulator.

Dr Chin-nan Hsien, commissioner with the National Communications Commission (NCC), said the regulator plans to issue spectrum for LTE at 700MHz, but that it will take three years for the NCC to reclaim the frequencies, which are now being used by the military and police.

It will take a further two years to conclude the LTE licensing process, and another two years after that before LTE can commercially begin.

“Wimax will be the only choice in the market for seven years,” Hsien told delegates at the Wimax Forum conference in Taipei yesterday.

The Taiwan government is a strong supporter of Wimax, which is backed by several local vendors.

Hsien also expects consolidation of the country’s six regional Wimax operators, which by law cannot merge until after the launch of services.

Speculation in Taiwan is that Wimax operator Global Mobile is in talks to buy PHS operator Fitel’s Wimax operation. Talks are believed to have stalled because Fitel is demanding too high a price.

Meanwhile, FarEasTone Jan Nilsson president told delegates that while the firm was “very satisfied with what Wimax is offering,” he urged the vendor community to “create better indoor solutions.”

Nilsson said the lack of a satisfactory in-building solution for Wimax was “the really big problem” for operators.

“We are quite happy with Wimax, but we are waiting for the vendor community to provide better indoor solutions,” Nilsson said.

He that said the “reality at the moment” is that it is more than 50% cheaper to roll out HSPA than Wimax.

“We are not interested in technology. We are interested in deploying interesting services to subscribers in a cost efficient manner,” he told delegates.

Wimax operators also require “true multi-mode devices”, incorporating Wi-Fi, Wimax and HSPA, according to Nilsson.

“We can’t do a nationwide [Wimax] rollout until have this in place.”

FarEasTone rolled out commercial Wimax services in Taichung, central Taiwan, in late January.

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