Taiwan’s MoTC sees WiMAX operator mergers as critical to 4G spectrum allocation

26 Sep 2012

The Taiwanese government has suggested that it is waiting on the proposed merger of the country’s WiMAX providers before it makes any decisions regarding the next allocation of 4G spectrum, the Taipei Times reports. According to the local news source, Teng Tien-lai, Taiwan’s director general of the post and telecommunications department at the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MoTC), has said that the government is aiming to issue a new round of concessions for the 700MHz, 900MHz and 1800MHz bands in December 2013. However, licences for 2.6GHz spectrum, which is suitable for the deployment of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, are not expected to be handed out until 2015/16, when the existing WiMAX concessions expire.

‘The merger of WiMAX operators will inform our allocation of frequency ranges,’ Teng was cited as saying, while also noting that if Taiwan’s six existing WiMAX operators merge into a single entity it would make it easier for the MoTC to plan its allocation of 4G spectrum. However, it was further suggested that if the consolidation of existing operators results in more than two companies it would make the state’s job harder to allocate the bands.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the National Communications Commission (NCC) closed applications for its 2.5GHz spectrum tender in June 2007, by which date a total of 14 companies from different industry sectors had formally expressed an interest in the auction of six regional licences. The following month saw the NCC award three licences in the north and three in the south of the nation, with one licence in each region reserved for a new entrant to the telecoms market, with each concession valid for a six-year term. In the event, First International Telecom (Fitel), Global Mobile and VMAX took 30MHz of spectrum each in the north, while Far EasTone (FET), Tatung InfoComm and Vastar Cable TV System (now known as Vee Telecom) won 30MHz concessions to operate in the south. WiMAX has had limited success in Taiwan, and at end-June 2012 there were just 135,605 such accesses according to the NCC.