Taiwan’s First International Telecom (Fitel) has reportedly received regulatory approval from the National Communications Commission (NCC) to upgrade its existing Personal Handyphone Service (PHS) network to XGP, a next-generation version of PHS technology. According to Digitimes, with demand for PHS-based services having declined, Fitel approached the regulator with an application to transform its operations late last year. Under the operator’s plans it aims to replace around 10,000 existing PHS base stations in the Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung metropolitan areas; new XGP hardware is expected to be deployed by the end of this year, with commercial services likely to then be launched in 2014. Fitel will reportedly make a decision regarding the procurement of XGP equipment later this month, with Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), Huawei and ZTE all named as possible vendors for the project. Meanwhile, Fitel is already said to be in negotiations with Japanese XGP operator Willcom over a possible cooperation related to terminal devices. With a view to funding its plans, Fitel has said it aims to raise an additional paid-in capital of TWD5 billion (USD169 million).
As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Fitel was established in April 1997 as an island-wide paging service provider and was granted permission to operate a PHS in February 2000 using frequencies in the 1900MHz band. It subsequently launched in May 2001 and remains the country’s only operator of the low-tier wireless communications system. At end-September 2012 it had 748,750 subscribers, down from 833,227 a year earlier.