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Sony tests LTE phones at Taiwan's 700 MHz level

TAIPEI -- Sony Mobile Communications, a mobile unit of Japanese electronics maker Sony Corp., said Monday that it is working with Taiwanese carriers to test 4G LTE smartphones using the new 700 MHz frequency that will soon be introduced in Taiwan.

The new phones are being tested in the laboratories of Taiwan Mobile Co. and Far EasTone Telecommunications Co., with the first model due for sale in the first half of this year, said Jonathan Lin, general manager of Sony Mobile's Taiwan branch.

Sony is expected to launch “several” LTE phones supporting the 700 MHz frequency, including mid-tier models, by the end of the year, Lin said after a press conference in Taipei announcing the Xperia Z2 flagship phone.

“700 MHz is a brand new frequency, so it will take some time for us to complete the tests for software and hardware because we value the quality of our products,” Lin said. He declined to reveal any price range for the phones.

There are no existing networks using the 700MHz frequency anywhere in the world at present, but Taiwanese telecom operators are expected to begin commercial operation of LTE networks using the frequency in the second half of 2014.

Similar networks are also expected to come on line in the future in Australia, Japan and some Latin American countries.

Taiwan Mobile and Far EasTone will both operate networks on the 700 MHz and 1800 MHz frequencies, while Chunghwa Telecom Co., Taiwan's largest mobile provider, is due to launch its LTE network on the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz frequencies.

Earlier on Monday, South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. unveiled its new phone-tablet device, the Galaxy Note 3 Neo, which will hit Taiwanese stores in the second quarter of 2014 and make use of the country's 700 MHz frequency.

The downsized version of the Galaxy Note series is expected to carry a price tag in Taiwan of under NT$20,000 (US$660), the company said.

Taiwan Mobile President James Jeng told a press briefing on Monday that his company will launch 10 phones capable of using the frequency in the third quarter of this year, and the number is expected to rise to 40 models by the end of the year.

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