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Chunghwa to continue rural infrastructure investment

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Chunghwa Telecom (中華電) yesterday announced that plans to bridge the gap between urban and rural areas in Internet access are progressing briskly, with 50 sites expected to see marked improvement before the end of this year, including aboriginal settlement Qalang Smangus (司馬庫斯).

Qalang Smangus, an aboriginal village in Hsinchu's mountainous Jienshi Township (尖石鄉) was among the many rural areas to benefit from the initiative. With a population of around 170 in 34 households, Chunghwa Telecom is the sole carrier capable of providing Internet and cellular access to the rural village. Village residents stated that following improvements to their Internet access, local fruit growers were able to sell their entire peach crop within four days with the assistance of electronic commerce during harvest season, compared to the two-month lead time required previously. In addition, the area saw a marked rise in the number of visiting foreign tourists, who had learned of the village's famed natural surroundings via the Internet.

Company President Shih Mu-piao (石木標) stated that the initiative to improve Internet access throughout 82 rural townships and 721 neighborhoods and villages began in 2008 as part of a program initiated by the National Communication Commission. The project is estimated to accumulate total costs reaching NT$470 million and bring improvements to 231 sites by 2015.

Shih stated that this year's target is to complete and improve network infrastructure at 50 sites, spending a total of NT$130 million while pushing Internet access coverage to 85 percent by the end of this year, and 95 percent by 2015. Shih added that the company is prepared to take on the burden of bringing improvements to 93.15 percent of sites earmarked by the NCC.

The company last year spent NT$345 on upgrading 177 sites, bringing high speed Internet access speed of at least 12Mbps to rural Taiwan.

In contrast to competing carriers, Chunghwa Telecom is committed in bringing services to Taiwan's rural regions despite unfavorable profitability prospects.

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