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April 30, 2017

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Taiwan to spend heavily on 5G network

TAIPEI--Taiwan will make good use of a window of opportunity by developing 5th-generation (5G) mobile networks under a three-year NT$15 billion (US$497 million) budget plan, Minister without Portfolio Simon Chang said Wednesday.

The money, which will come from the 4G mobile service license bidding last year, will be used to enhance the country's competitiveness in the industry, and it will have to be done soon, before it is too late, Chang said at a meeting held by the Cabinet's Board of Science and Technology.

Taiwan did not complete licensing 4G mobile services until last year, and commercial operations for 5G services will probably take another 10 years to come to fruition, which will put Taiwan behind the curve, he predicted.

"Therefore, we have to start action now, integrating power from academia and the private sector," Chang said.

The government has been urged by the private sector to establish a task force tailored for 5G development, which will manage and integrate inter-ministerial resources and cooperate with the private sector.

5G standards are estimated to be finalized in the next 8-10 years and once the standards are ready — by 2020 — the global production value of the 5G sector could reach US$61 billion in 2021, growing to US$300 billion by 2025.

Taiwan Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association Chairman Gou Tai-chiang echoed Chang's view, saying that the private sector is happy to know that the government will set up a 5G industry development fund to enhance related software and hardware applications.

Leading foreign companies have been working on 5G for many years, Gou said, adding that the trend will lead an industrial revolution for which local firms should get well-prepared.

Wu Ming-chi, executive secretary of the board, said 5G is going to be a great challenge for Taiwan, as people, no matter whether they are in the manufacturing or service sectors, will have to adjust to the new situation.

Others in the business also expressed concern, saying that the government should first focus on building strong fundamentals before thinking of the business opportunities that could be as far away as a decade down the line.

It is even uncertain if Taiwanese system manufacturers can survive over the next three to five years due to the fierce competition, they said.

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