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Asia Pacific Telecom announces 4G LTE-ready phones

TAIPEI--Taiwan's Asia Pacific Telecom Co. (亞太電訊) on Thursday launched the country's first two 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE)-ready smartphones enabling the widely used EasyCard payment system in the hope of attracting more consumers to its upcoming 4G service.

The BenQ F5 and T3 phones, in cooperation with EasyCard Corp. (悠遊卡公司), are compatible with a tailor-made SIM card designed by Asia Pacific Telecom that allows users to pay for public transportation systems like the Taipei metro and to make small purchases in local convenience stores.

Although Asia Pacific Telecom will not begin operation of its 4G LTE until the first quarter of next year, the two new phones will be able to run on the LTE network in the future through software upgrades and a replacement of SIM card, according to the carrier.

Asia Pacific Telecom, the only CDMA 2000 mobile telecom carrier and one of the six 4G mobile communication licensees in Taiwan, will initially deploy at least 3,000 4G base stations in early 2015 to cover 99 percent of target population, company President Vincent Chih said at the announcement of the new phones.

But Chih said it will take time to integrate Asia Pacific Telecom's 4G network system into that of Ambit Microsystems Corp., which announced a deal in May this year to acquire Asia Pacific Telecom.

Ambit Microsystems, a telecom subsidiary of Taiwan-based Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., signed a letter of intent May 26 to purchase over 70.5 percent of the private placement shares of Taipei-based Asia Pacific Telecom.

The deal, at a cost of nearly NT$11.66 billion (US$387.34 million), marks Hon Hai's acquisition of one of Taiwan's major telecommunication services providers, making it a serious contender in the 4G telecommunication sector.

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