According to the Taipei Times, Taiwan’s largest IT association, the Taipei Computer Association (TCA) – which boasts 4,000-plus corporate members – has urged the country’s WiMAX providers to merge operations in order to spearhead growth. Taiwan currently has six licensed WiMAX operators, namely: Global Mobile, VMAX Telecom, Far EasTone (FET), First International Telecom (Fitel), Tatung InfoComm and Vee TIME. However, the country’s combined WiMAX subscriber base stood at just 58,300 at end-March 2011, casting doubts over the long-term future of the access type. TCA chairman Wang Jeng-tang commented: ‘Taiwan has invested a lot in the WiMAX technology and the merger of existing operators will help reach bigger economic scale and make the most use of resources’. It has been widely reported that that licence restrictions, which stipulate that each licence can only be used in one of three geographical areas of the island – North, Central or South – are responsible for the slow growth, despite some operators commencing the provision of roaming services in August 2010.
TeleGeography notes that four of the operators – Global Mobile, Tatung Infocomm, FarEasTone and VMAX – were awarded technology-neutral licences in June 2007. The NCC later indicated that the quartet may apply to alter their operational plans in order to adopt different mobile technologies – including Long Term Evolution (LTE) in the future. The other two WiMAX licensees – Fitel and Vee – have technology-specific concessions which are tied to WiMAX. According to the NCC, 4G licensing will take place in 2014 at the earliest. As yet, no decisions have yet been made with regard to spectrum planning or the number of 4G licences that will be awarded.