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Unlimited mobile data plans may be scrapped

Minister without Portfolia Simon Chang (張善政) said yesterday that the Executive Yuan will advocate the capping of mobile Internet data plans in the hope of decreasing usage and improving Web speeds.

The unlimited mobile data plan, which many people in Taiwan use as their primary Internet source, is one of the main reasons for slow Internet speeds, Chang said at a speech yesterday.

Statistics showed that 14 percent of mobile Internet users take up 67 percent of the network's capacity. Upgrading the Internet system to fourth-generation (4G) technology will not help solve the problem.

Mobile operators said their profits will not benefit from the canceling of unlimited mobile data plans. As a result of the proposal, those 14 percent of mobile Internet users who use the system excessively might see their bills increase, while the remaining 86 percent could pay less, Chang added.

Chang said that the Executive Yuan will review the price now that an Internet-speed standard has been established.

Since the Internet speed measurement plan took effect in May the average download speed increased from 1.7 Mbps to 2.1 Mbps at the end of July, Chang said. It proves that mobile operators feel the pressure to improve the Internet quality, he said.

Network Congestion is Caused by the Unlimited Data Plan

Two factors cause network congestion in Taiwan, Chang said. First, the national fixed Internet speed is relatively slow. Second, mobile Internet is combined with unlimited mobile data plans.

He suggested canceling unlimited mobile data plans and improving high-speed Internet.

Taiwan's fixed-Internet speed is slower and more expensive compared to other countries, Chang said. Medium to high-speed Internet plans are not as popular here as in developed countries.

As for mobile Internet, countries like the U.S. and South Korea apply higher rates in order to control network capacity. In Taiwan, unlimited mobile data plans are frequently used.

Chang said third-generation (3G) mobile Internet should be combined with W-Ffi services to extend the 3G network. This may improve capacity.

The National Communications Commission (NCC) responded to Chang's suggestion, saying that mobile operators have the initiative to set the mobile Internet rate. They encouraged operators to adopt capped mobile plans to avoid wasting network capacity.

More Countries to Cancel Unlimited Mobile Data Plan

A domestic mobile operator said that more and more operators in the U.S., Europe, and Hong Kong have already canceled the unlimited mobile data plan. Operators in Taiwan would also like to follow this trend.

However, Taiwanese citizens are not optimistic about the change. NCC and mobile operators are now trying to come up with a method to cancel the unlimited mobile data plan while minimizing negative repercussions.

1 Comment
November 2, 2012    curtisakbar@
It is up to the consumer and provider to agree upon data plans, not the government. If 67% of people want pay as you go, let them. For me, it is cheaper to use an unlimited tariff as I use my phone with skype and line, so I don't actually 'call' or 'text' people. Of course I play games as well when out and about. I use a moderate amount. If my provider changes my plan, I'll just cancel the contract. 3G network in the UK is the sole provider of unlimited data plans in the UK and you pay just a bit more for the service. Instead of capping, introduce a fair terms policy, so you stop the excessive abuse from the minority.
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