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Jitters on the first day of 4G operations

TAIPEI, Taiwan --Yesterday marked the first day of commercial operations for Taiwan's first 4G mobile broadband network, launched by Chunghwa Telecom (中華電) on Thursday. However, it was not without first day jitters and misgivings among subscribers.

Despite the overwhelming volume of inquiries at Chunghwa Telecom service outlets, reports indicate that a number of current 3G subscribers remain tentative about upgrading to 4G due to numerous lingering concerns over cost, the compatibility of their current mobile device and questions concerning the fledgling network's stability.

A number of subscribers also complained that they were notified by Chunghwa Telecom service representatives that 4G service is only offered to first-time subscribers and that the option to upgrade their existing mobile numbers to 4G is not currently available.

Internet forums gave inklings of Chunghwa Telecom's first day 4G jitters with users reporting slower than expected data transmission speeds during tests at various MRT stations throughout Taipei City.

Most notably, subscribers expressed concerns over the lack of unlimited mobile data usage plans for 4G, stating that with the same usage pattern, the cost of 4G is not comparatively cheaper than 3G, as claimed by telecom carriers, due to the fact that connection speeds will be throttled beyond the allotted usage amount.

Apple Handsets not 4G Compatible until End of June

Meanwhile, users of Apple's popular iPhone handsets, including the iPhone 5, 5C and 5S variants, may not utilize the 4G network until the company's firmware update is released toward the end of June. For Android-based smartphones, HTC yesterday announced that timely firmware updates will be released to allow for 4G compatibility for six handset models, the One M7's LTE variant, the One Max, the Butterfly S 4G LTE variant, the Desire 816 and Desire 610. Samsung stated yesterday that the firmware for its Galaxy S5, Note 3 LTE, and Note 3 Neo handsets have been upgraded with 4G compatibility.

3G to 4G Upgrade for Current Subscribers Dependant on Regulatory Approval

Chunghwa Telecom yesterday stated that the National Communication Commission (NCC) has yet to approve carriers to upgrade their subscribers' existing 2G or 3G accounts to 4G, explaining why its 4G service is only available to first-time subscribers or customers seeking to acquire an additional cellular number.

The company stated that as the market for mobile phone users in Taiwan is approaching full saturation, upgrading its existing 3G usership to 4G remains its top priority. The company expects to overcome regulatory hurdles as soon as possible and offer 3G-to-4G upgrades in early June. According to the company, about 70 percent of its 4 million 3G subscribers are under NT$1,343 monthly contracts and, following regulatory approval, 3G-to-4G upgrades will be made available to current 3G subscribers at no additional cost and without extended contract periods.

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