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Taiwan Mobile unveils own-branded 4G phones & tablet

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan Mobile Co. (台灣大哥大), the country's second-biggest mobile provider, introduced Thursday the new lineup of its own-branded mobile devices catering to price-sensitive subscribers to Taiwan's upcoming 4G LTE network.

The two 4G-enabled smartphones and a tablet in the Amazing series, manufactured by Chinese handset maker ZTE Corp., will be available next month and will start from NT$4,990 (US$166).

The carrier also launched a 5.5-inch, octa-core 3G smartphone assembled by Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (鴻海), which costs only NT$4,990 and targets budget customers who intend to shift from 2G to 3G network.

Jeff Ku, senior vice president of Taiwan Mobile, said own-branded smartphones made up 30 percent of his company's total phone sales in the first four months of 2014, an increase from about 20 percent last year.

The ratio could further rise to 40 percent by the end of this year, as Taiwan Mobile plans to offer a total of 20 models of LTE smartphones and tablets with “high cost-to-performance” when the carrier is scheduled to begin LTE operations in July, Ku said.

He said Taiwan Mobile expects its LTE network to cover 70 percent to 80 percent of the population in the country's five major metropolitan areas in 2014, attracting roughly 400,000 to 500,000 subscribers.

Subsidiary for Third-party Payment

Taiwan Mobile said that it has drafted a proposal to establish a subsidiary to handle a third-party online payment business that will allow its customers to make mobile payments through virtual accounts.

The company said its proposal will need to be approved at its annual general shareholders' meeting next month. The subsidiary would require a capital of at least NT$300 million (US$9.96 million) based on local regulations.

“Third party payment is considered a strategic deployment, and Taiwan Mobile will certainly participate in it,” Senior Vice President Jeff Ku said at a press conference announcing the operator's new own-branded 4G phones.

Taiwan Mobile has launched a wide range of mobile payment services that work by scanning QR codes or swiping near-field communication (NFC)-enabled devices, which can be integrated into the third-party payment, Ku said.

The mobile provider plans to team up with local banks to offer its third-party payment services and “has not ruled out” any possibilities of partnering with other companies in the future, the executive said.

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