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IDC estimates limited Taiwanese 4G users in 2014

TAIPEI -- A total of 600,000 Taiwanese mobile subscribers are expected to shift from the current 3G network to the super-fast 4G services in 2014 when providers begin offering 4G services, according to market research company IDC.

The number of 4G subscribers, however, are projected to soar 13.5 fold to 8.1 million by 2015, thanks to the improving quality of 4G services, IDC said in a report.

The research firm expects Chunghwa Telecom Co., Taiwan's largest mobile provider, to become the first carrier to offer 4G services in 2014, as the company has acquired sufficient bandwidth, including the 1,800 MHz spectrum band which already has a mature ecosystem for suppliers.

Moreover, IDC said 4G operators are likely to adopt a tier-pricing strategy, rather than the “all-you-can-eat” data plans seen currently in 3G services, with most 4G users expected to pay a monthly fee of NT$1,500-NT$2,000 (US$50-US$67) for free 5GB data usage every month.

Taiwan had about 24.37 million subscribers to its 3G network, as of October 2013, according to data compiled by the National Communications Commission, the country's top broadcasting regulator.

Currently, Chunghwa Telecom has nearly 3.6 million subscribers for its 3G data services. The company said early this month that it aims to start 4G operations in the third quarter of 2014 and expects to have 300,000 4G users by the end of next year.

Far EasTone Telecommunications Co., the country's third-largest carrier, forecast on Dec. 20 that its 4G users will reach 700,000 to 800,000 in 2014 when it begins offering 4G services, with 4G phones expected to account for half of its total smartphone purchases next year.

The maximum 4G Internet speed is up to 10 times faster than the current 3G networks, which will meet demand for the transmission of high-quality content, such as 4K video with a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, according to industry analysts.

The auction for the 4G spectrum in Taiwan began Sept. 3 and came to an end on Oct. 30 after 392 bidding rounds, with the bids made by six companies vying for licenses totaling NT$118.65 billion, 3.3 times the floor price set by the government.

A total of 270 MHz of radio frequencies in the 700 MHz, 900 MHz and 1,800 MHz spectrums for 4G services were up for auction.

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