Taiwan’s National Communications Commission (NCC) has granted conditional approval for Asia Pacific Telecom (APT) to share Far EasTone Telecommunications (FET’s) 5G spectrum and use the latter’s network. According to the Taipei Times, with this being the first instance of a spectrum sharing arrangement since the implementation of the Telecommunications Management Act last year, the NCC has approved the duo’s application, provided that two conditions are met.
Firstly, both firms are reportedly committed to constructing 2,000 more base stations to expand 5G coverage – FET will build 500 5G and 1,000 4G base stations within the next two years, while APT will roll out 500 new 4G base stations. The cellcos’ subscribers, meanwhile, must have equal access to the shared bandwidth on the 3.5GHz band, NCC vice-chairman Wong Po-tsung was cited as saying. Under the second condition, APT and FET will be required to set up a task force to ensure that both operators have the ability to control the 5G network and monitor information security issues. The task force will be expected to conduct regular meetings and submit records to the NCC.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in September 2020 FET agreed to pay TWD5 billion (USD178 million) to acquire an 11.58% stake in APT, while in a parallel move the two parties also inked a spectrum sharing deal, under which APT would gain access to FET’s 5G-suitable 3.5GHz spectrum, paying TWD9.47 billion to use the frequencies, while also sharing network deployment costs. Having received the partnership application in December 2020, Wong said the NCC had reviewed it based on criteria in the Telecommunications Management Act and the Regulations Governing the Use of Radio Frequencies, including ensuring efficient frequency use, facilitating market competition and protecting consumer interests. Commenting on the matter, the NCC executive was cited as saying: ‘The Telecommunications Management Act allows telecoms to build networks together and permits a more flexible use of frequencies, which is expected to bring unprecedented changes to the telecommunications market … We will closely monitor those changes and soon entrust a research institution with the task of studying relevant issues.’