The Taiwanese government is reportedly considering treating Taiwan and its outlying areas as one service area for telecoms charges, the Taipei Times has reported. The Transportation Committee’s legislature voted in favour of two motions filed by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) that the country’s phone rates be unified, and the National Communications Commission (NCC) has confirmed that it will trial the scheme on the outlying islands before rolling it out nationally. DPP legislators proposed that call rates to Taoyuan should be unified within six months, whilst their KMT opposite numbers requested that Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu all enjoy the same charges as Taiwan within a year. Admitting the scheme could be ‘complicated’ to introduce, NCC chairperson Su Herng said that the Commission will aim to achieve its goal in a piecemeal manner. If the trial proves successful, citizens across Taiwan will be able to make calls at a standard rate rather than adhering to the present distinction between local and long-distance calls. Pouring scorn on the plan, Chunghwa Telecom president Chang Shaio-tung said that his company stands to lose TWD3.58 billion (USD122.6 million) from the scheme, suggesting that the entire process is likely to take between four and five years to implement properly.
In other news, at the same meeting, a discussion of the mooted Taiwan-China cross-straits cable was greeted with hostility by DPP legislators, who expressed concern that the cable would threaten national security by granting Chinese telecoms carriers full access to confidential information. However, officials from both the NCC and the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) defended the policy, saying that costs to consumers would increase dramatically if cross-strait communication had to be conducted via a third location.