Taiwan’s five 3G licensees – Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Cellular, Yuan-Ze Telecom (Far EasTone), Asia Pacific Broadband Wireless (APBW) and Vibo Telecom – have formed a research and development (R&D) alliance in a bid to promote next-generation services and create new applications to entice users. The government will also invest in the alliance in the hope that it will speed up the lethargic roll out of services. Since the five paid a combined USD1.4 billion for their 3G licences in February 2002 only APBW has launched commercial services to a thus far unconvinced Taiwanese public.
Start-up operator Vibo Telecom had originally hoped to introduce a commercial service in July 2004 under the brand name T3G, but is now targeting a launch in the final quarter of this year. Vibo chairman Rock Hsu said his company’s rollout was slated to coincide with the introduction of mobile number portability (MNP) on 1 January 2005, which it hoped would provide a vital leg-up in luring subscribers away from the big three operators, Chunghwa, Taiwan Cellular and Far EasTone, none of which plan to launch 3G until 2006. However, the government’s tardiness in making available a CDMA2000 licence and the non-appearance of MNP has undermined and ultimately delayed its launch. This week Vibo clinched an infrastructure deal with Ericsson, under which the Swedish vendor will deliver a turnkey solution for the cellco’s W-CDMA network. The agreement comprises a turnkey solution for core network equipment, transport network and systems integrations, as well as a full portfolio of services such as training, network design, network rollout and technical support.