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Internet access fee may be lowered this year

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Domestic Internet access fees are expected to be lowered this year, according to the National Communications Commission (NCC).

In response to complaints by some legislators that Taiwan's Internet fees are higher than in other Asian countries, NCC Chairman Howard Shyr (石世豪) said yesterday that there is room for a price cut, and that he will urge local service providers to decrease their charges.

He did not specify the possible range of rate decreases.

According to a Kuomintang (KMT) legislator, NCC policies have led to the monopolization of the telecommunications industry. As inter-carrier costs among different carriers was recently lowered by 14 percent, the cost reduction should be reflected in the charges of local service providers.

Although Chunghwa Telecom has lowered its rate for its 100-megabyte high-speed broadband service, most users subscribe to mid- or low-speed services, so don't benefit from the cut, according to Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Tsai Chi-chang.

Shyr said that Taiwan's Internet fees are higher than international standards, and the commission will ask telecom companies to review their rates.

As for fourth-generation network technology, Shyr said that the licensing rules will be released between May and June, while bidding information will be announced between August and September. The bid winners will be made public by November.

According to the NCC, telecom service providers can kick off operation of their 4G mobile broadband services if they meet several requirements: winning the bid and paying the bond by the end of this year, installing over 250 high-speed base stations, and reaching 40-percent coverage of 4G services within three years.

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National Communications Commission Chairman (NCC) Howard Shyr, left, answers questions from lawmakers in the Legislative Yuan, yesterday. Shyr said that the NCC expects another wave of price cuts for Internet fees, and will urge local telecommunications service providers to review their rates. (CNA)

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