The Taiwanese government will have to address the issue of fairness if LTE supplants Wimax as the nation's favored 4G standard, a new government minister has cautioned.
Minister without portfolio Simon Chang told local media that moving away from Wimax would raise fairness issues for the operators which have already invested in the standard, Focus Taiwanreported.
Taiwan originally threw its lot behind Wimax, awarding licenses to six operators, and offering concessions and support to Wimax equipment manufacturers.
But Wimax has failed to gain significant traction among consumers in Taiwan. The six Wimax licensees – Far EasTone, Global Mobile, VMAX, First International Telecom, Tatung Infocom and Vee Telecom Multimedia – have so far acquired only around 133,000 users between them.
Chang, a former Google executive, suggested that the government is likely to shift its support to LTE as the technology increasingly becomes the de-facto global 4G standard.
But if the government wants to allocate LTE licenses, this would raise the question of what to do for the Wimax license holders, Chang said.
He said the government will have to decide whether the Wimax licenses owned by the operators should be released and transferred to third parties, which suggests that they may be replaced by LTE licenses through some mechanism.
One issue with swapping out Wimax with LTE licenses is that under existing rules operators are required to have at least 70% 4G coverage.
Last year, the GSM Association called on Taiwan to abandon its focus on Wimax manufacturing and offer the same incentives to LTE suppliers, based on the fact that the market for LTE gear now dwarfs the market for Wimax equipment.