Taiwanese multi-service operator Chunghwa Telecom has reportedly said it is now aiming to introduce commercial LTE-based services in July 2014, ahead of its previously planned fourth-quarter launch date. According to the Taipei Times, with the operator having originally set out its stall to have 300,000 4G subscribers by the end of the year, the decision to move the launch forward is, in part, aimed at boosting that number. Indeed, keen to beat its initial target, Chunghwa’s chairman and CEO Rick Tsai was cited as saying: ‘It is part of our financial forecast, which we always want to surpass.’ As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in December 2013 Chunghwa outlined plans to cover 60% of the population in six metropolitan areas within the first year of it offering 4G services, with that figure rising to 90% in all counties in the second year, and 90% in all rural areas in the third. To achieve such goals, Chunghwa said it will deploy 3,000 BTS to achieve its initial goal, while it expects to have constructed more than 10,000 BTS nationwide once the LTE network rollout is complete.
In separate but related news, Focus Taiwan reports that Chunghwa has confirmed it is in talks with Taiwan Star Cellular Corp, the latter of which emerged from the state’s recent 4G auction with a 10MHz block of spectrum in the 900MHz band, with regards to the possibility of sharing resources. ‘We are indeed negotiating (with Taiwan Star) on leased lines, infrastructure sharing and base station sharing," said Chunghwa’s president Shih Mu-piao was cited as saying.
Meanwhile, reports that Taiwan Star, a subsidiary of the Ting Hsin International Group, was planning to acquire Asia Pacific Telecom (APT) have been played down by the latter company. With APT currently utilising the B1 frequency band that was won by Taiwan Star to provide 3G services, the former’s concession is not due to expire until 2018. Reports in November 2013 claimed that the newcomer could look to strike a deal with APT in order to speed up the rollout of its services. However, following announcements that it was aiming to launch commercial 4G services in 3Q 2014, speculation emerged that Taiwan Star was planning to purchase APT at TWD19 (USD0.63) per share, according to the Liberty Times. In response to such suggestions, however, APT said in a filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange that such claims were nothing more than ‘total media speculation’.