APT to snub rival, launch 4G network later this year

By Ted Chen ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Asia Pacific Telecom (APT,亞太電信) Chairman Lu Fang-ming (呂芳銘) yesterday stated that shifting its 4G network launch date from the first quarter of next year to before the end of this year is the best path for the company, he said at the firm’s extraordinaire shareholders’ conference.

Shareholders questioned APT executives on the lack of progress in its forthcoming 4G network, as the technology has already been implemented by rivals in the sector.

Lu stated that the company is striving toward building the 250 signal towers required to apply for a 4G operating license from the National Communication Commission (NCC). Once ATP secures its 4G operating license, the company will apply to be merged with Ambit Microsystems Corp. (國碁電子), a telecoms subsidiary owned by Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (鴻海精密).

In addition, Lu noted that following the merger, APT and Ambit will be controlling 30MHz of the 4G frequency spectrum, exceeding the maximum amount allotted by regulators at 5MHz.

Bandwidth Not for Sale Lu stated that the company has been contacted by at least three suitors in the sector with the hopes of purchasing the 5MHz block. During yesterday’s conference, Lu asked whether the company should sell off its 5MHz block, with gathered shareholders responding with a resounding “no.” Bandwidth is the lifeline of any telecoms carrier, said Lu, adding that APT wishes to retain the 5MHz block.

Lu yesterday also snubbed rival Taiwan Star Cellular Co. (台灣之星) by expressing his misgivings over the company’s promise to provide stellar connection speeds to its subscribers. According to Lu, Taiwan Star’s paltry 10MHz bandwidth may not be sufficient, adding that 5MHz of the block may be occupied by APT until 2018. Most notably, Lu stated that he has ruled out the possibility of selling its 5MHz block to Taiwan Star.

Lu derided rivaling Taiwan Star’s 4G network as incomplete, as it still relies on the older 3G network to cover gaps in coverage. Lu compared Taiwan Star’s 4G network to an incomplete highway system, where motorists enjoy high traveling speeds, but are slowed down when they are compelled to turn off to back roads.

“In the 4G age, users are transmitting larger sized images and media content, as opposed to text, therefore, I am at a loss on how Taiwan Star will be able to provide the connection speeds they are promising,” said Lu.

On the company’s network infrastructure expansion, Lu stated that the 4G network based on the 700MHz and 900MHz bands have excellent signal penetration attributes, and that fewer signal towers are required to achieve good coverage.