At the end of November 2016 the Executive Yuan released its digital state project, aiming for a total investment of no less than $5.31 billion in the innovative economy between 2017 and 2025 for fast integration into next-generation broadband development.

The National Communications Commission (NCC) has stated that the broadband environment – which is currently available at 100 megabits per second (Mbps) for the penetration rate of 28.5% – will be gradually upgraded to 2,000Mbps, with 90% coverage nationwide by the end of 2025. As part of a universal service, a minimum of 25Mbps internet access service will be free to disadvantaged groups by end of 2025.

Despite the upcoming amendment to the Telecommunications Act and a new Digital Communications Act expected in early 2017, the NCC has been taking measures to boost broadband deployment by giving regulatory incentives to mobile broadband operators as follows:

  • Small cells (femtocell and picocell) base stations will no longer require respective licences from the NCC. Installation of any of the base stations of 3G and 4G mobile networks must receive a licence from the NCC before its deployment, as well as network construction permits and operation licences held by operators.
  • The utilisation fee for radio frequency will be reconsidered and become subject to a 'tiering' scheme decided by the effectiveness of signal penetration. Fees will be determined based on the usage of the 1 gigahertz (GHz) band, and those above will be offered a 10% discount. A 20% discount for the use of the 2GHz band and above will be available, while usage under the 1GHz band will remain at the same charge provided in the existing fee standard. Further, deployment of mobile broadband networks in remote areas will reach 85% and receive a further 5% to 15 % discount on the frequency utilisation fee.

Public comments will be invited during December 2016.

For further information on this topic please contact Arthur Shay at Shay & Partners by telephone (+886 2 8773 3600) or email (arthur@elitelaw.com). The Shay & Partners website can be accessed at www.elitelaw.com.

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