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September 25, 2017

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Chunghwa Telecom employees protest 'last mile' plans

The China Post news staff --More than 1,000 labor union members of Chunghwa Telecom Co. (CHT) staged a demonstration at the National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday to protest the regulator's proposal to force the company to share its "last mile" telecom connection resources with its competitors.

Braving heavy rains in Taipei, the protesters said they oppose the NCC's draft revision of existing telecom service regulations to require that CHT share its fixed-line telecom networks with other telecom service providers.

They stressed that only CHT has made heavy capital investments to build up and enhance the network over the years while other telecom operators did not make their share of contributions.

NCC officials said the suggested changes in the existing telecom service rules are made for the purpose of giving the maximum benefits of telecom services to all people in the nation rather than for any particular business entities.

The NCC's move has not only failed to ensure fair market competition but also infringed on the company's rights, harmed all CHT shareholders' interests and threatened the livelihoods of CHT employees and their families, union leaders said.

Under the NCC's plan, CHT has to release its fixed line networks at production and construction costs to share the resources with other telecom service providers in Taiwan.

The market share of CHT's services related to the "last mile" operations will be cut down to between 60 and 70 percent from the current 97 percent.

CHT, which was reorganized from the former state-owned Directorate General of Telecommunications, remains the largest telecom service provider in Taiwan, although its market dominance has been constantly challenged and eroded by the newcomers.

According the NCC's plan, CHT should also break up and create a separate and independent division or a subsidiary to handle the services related to the "last mile" sector.

CHT employees charged that NCC officials and Chang Shan-cheng, minister without portfolio in charge of high-tech affairs at the Executive Yuan, have been colluding with other telecom service groups to create tremendous benefits for CHT's competitors in the name of opening up Taiwan's telecom service market.

They urged the Cabinet to veto the NCC's proposal because CHT has invested a significant amount of money to beef up its telecom networks while the NCC did not require other fixed-line operators to share their resources with CHT.

CHT labor union leaders said they will team up with CHT shareholders and take their cause to the Legislative Yuan where the lawmakers will review and ratify all proposed law amendments from the executive branch even if the Cabinet endorses the NCC's proposals.

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