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Far EasTone unveils mid-tier 4G phone in 700 MHz

TAIPEI -- Far EasTone Telecommunications Co., Taiwan's third-largest mobile operator, announced yesterday its own-branded mid-tier 4G smartphone to make inroads into the country's new 700 megahertz (MHz) frequency.

The Smart 405 is manufactured by Alcatel and sports a 4.5-inch qHD screen, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.2GHz quad-core processor, an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 2,000 mAh battery, the operator said in a press release.

The LTE phone will be available from the following day, priced at NT$6,990 (US$231). Other handset makers' existing phones supporting 700 MHz are all high-end models, such as the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the HTC One M8.

Far EasTone said it plans more own-branded phones supporting the 700 MHz frequency, including a large-screen model with high performance-to-cost that will be released in May in partnership with Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the main manufacturer of Apple Inc. products.

When Far EasTone unveiled a lineup of its own-branded 3G smartphones in late February, the carrier said the “Smart” series models are expected to make up 10 percent of its planned smartphone purchase of 2.5 million units in 2014.

4G-enabled smartphones supporting the 700 MHz frequency will likely account for a 20 percent or higher share of Far EasTone's total smartphone purchase this year, the company forecast.

There are no existing networks using the 700 MHz 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.

Far EasTone is one of six companies that took part in bidding for Taiwan's 4G licenses in late 2013. It won the A2 block in the 700 MHz frequency and the C3 and C4 blocks in the 1800 MHz frequency.

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