3G market passes 400,000 mark

31 Oct 2005

Taiwan’s 3G market has passed the 400,000 subscriber mark, according to local news sources. Chunghwa Telecom leads the fledgling 3G market with around 260,000 customers signed up to its W-CDMA service so far, already more than double its original year-end target. Chunghwa Telecom opened up its 3G network a month after the country’s number two cellco by subscribers, Far EasTone, launched W-CDMA services, and two months after the third largest, Taiwan Mobile began full service trials of its own UMTS offering. Far EasTone is estimated to have around 36,000 3G subscribers so far and has targeted a modest 50,000 by the end of the year. Taiwan Mobile opened its 3G network up commercially earlier this month and says it now has around 50,000 3G users; it hopes to attract 100,000 customers by the end of the year. All three operators say they expect to see average revenue per user (ARPU) increase significantly in the coming months, and Taiwan Mobile has predicted a 31% jump in its fourth quarter profits due to the high take-up of 3G services. A fourth operator, Asia Pacific Broadband Wireless (APBW), was the first to launch 3G mobile services, lighting its CDMA2000 1xEV-DO network in 2003. It also offers CDMA2000 1x services and claims around 700,000 subscribers in total, though it does not say how many of these are 3G. APBW is currently the sole CDMA provider on the island, although start-up operator Vibo Telecom is awaiting the award of the island’s second CDMA concession. In the meantime, Vibo is set to launch W-CDMA services before the end of the year, further ramping up competition in the 3G sector.