Taiwan’s number two cellco by subscribers, Far EasTone, became the country’s number one W-CDMA provider yesterday with its launch of the island’s first wide-scale commercial 3G network. Far EasTone is currently offering four 3G handsets, priced at between TWD9,900 and TWD18,700 (USD310-USD586), and cautiously hopes to sign up 50,000 users to the service by the end of the year. Its biggest rivals, Taiwan Mobile (which began full service trials of its W-CDMA network in May) and Chungwha (which hopes to launch W-CDMA commercially within the next month), both expect to have 100,000 3G subscribers by year-end.
The 3G market in Taiwan is set to explode, with five cellcos due to be offering services via competing technologies by the end of this year. The country’s smallest operator Asia Pacific Broadband Wireless currently offers a limited 3G CDMA 1xEV-DO service in the Taipei metropolitan area and start-up operator Vibo Telecom is seeking a 1xEV-DO licence whilst simultaneously hurriedly rolling out its W-CDMA network ahead of a proposed December launch.