Taiwan’s National Communications Commission (NCC) has revealed that it could act as an arbitrator should Taiwan Star Telecom and Taiwan Mobile fail to reach a 4G roaming agreement. According to the Taipei Times, NCC spokesperson Yu Hsiao-cheng confirmed that Taiwan Star has approached the regulator with regards to its efforts to sign a roaming deal with Taiwan Mobile. After Taiwan Mobile had inked a roaming agreement with Asia Pacific Telecom (APT), it is understood that Taiwan Star sought to reach a similar deal on the grounds that the Telecommunications Act stipulates that operators may not discriminate against rival telcos or users without justification. However, Yu noted that while the regulations do specify that 3G service operators are obligated to offer roaming service, there is no article requiring 4G operators to do the same.
Disputes related to the 4G roaming pact struck between Taiwan Mobile and APT first emerged after the duo were found to be sharing the former’s core network instead of building their own infrastructure and using the roaming agreement to ensure continuous communication in out-of-service areas. Such a setup was criticised by the likes of Taiwan Star, Chunghwa Telecom and Far EasTone Telecommunications, all of which jointly urged the NCC to prohibit what they claimed was an illegal practice. Taiwan Star’s request to form a roaming partnership with Taiwan Mobile has meanwhile been widely viewed as a move designed to highlight the illegality of the latter’s deal with APT, which it has been argued could lead to unfair competition in Taiwan’s 4G sector.