NCC hearing to examine merger-related matters

9 Apr 2015

Taiwan’s National Communications Commission (NCC) will conduct an administrative hearing next week with a view to tackling issues raised by the controversial planned merger of Asia Pacific Telecom (APT) and Ambit Microsystems, as well as the former’s roaming agreement with the Taiwan Mobile.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, back in January 2015 the NCC rejected plans for a merger of APT and Ambit Microsystems; with the proposed tie-up also involving a strategic alliance with Taiwan Mobile, the regulator was not satisfied that the merger application had adequately explained the scope of this alliance. Meanwhile, the following month APT and Taiwan Mobile were each fined TWD300,000 (USD9,548) by the NCC for failing to report their 4G roaming alliance to the regulator as required by administrative policy.

Now, according to the Taipei Times, the Commission will focus on two issues at the hearing, the first of those being the obligations required for each carrier in a merger before they can secure regulatory approval. Specifically, it is understood that the NCC wants to determine if operators should offer more base stations, wider service coverage, faster transmission speeds, increased capacity and more efficient use of frequencies than the commitments listed in their original business plans before a merger is allowed to proceed. Meanwhile, the other matter tabled for discussion is linked to issues that a carrier encounters if it employs a different core network system from the one listed in its business plan after it is granted a concession. As an example, the NCC was cited as saying it wanted to stipulate the procedures that a carrier must follow should it decide to switch from a voice-over-Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) system to a circuit-switched fallback system.

Rival operators are expected to be disappointed by the meeting’s agenda, however, as they had reportedly hoped a discussion would have included a consideration over whether there should be a period after a frequency auction during which the trading of spectrum between companies was prohibited. Further, it has been claimed that some operators are looking for the NCC to specify requirements for carriers applying for a merger, in order to avoid companies first obtaining spectrum and then merging in order to monopolise ownership of certain frequencies.