Taiwan companies ally to develop 3G telecom

Taiwan’s five third-generation (3G) license holders have formed a research and development alliance aimed at creating new applications for the mobile broadband service, an effort the government will partially fund, an official said Friday.

The government hopes the alliance will speed the launch and widespread use of 3G mobile services across Taiwan in gaming, commerce, learning and other areas, it said in a statement. To that end, alliance members will receive some government support to develop applications to enhance security, ensure software compatibility and create new standards for the island.

“We don’t have an exact amount of money set aside for the group. There will be some funds available, but companies will have to submit research proposals and we’ll consider them individually. The government could provide 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the research costs, but the companies will also have to contribute,” said Wei Chung-chien, an official at Taiwan’s Department of Industrial Technology.

The group will also try to work on a common platform to ensure applications and services can work on all five of the 3G networks company members have built in Taiwan, said Yvonne Lan, director of public relations at Far Eastone Telecommunications Co. Ltd. Her company will launch its 3G services by mid-July, she said.

All the group’s members are slated to have their 3G systems running by the end of the year. They are Far Eastone, Chunghwa Telecom Co., Ltd., Taiwan Mobile Co. Ltd. (which changed its name Thursday from Taiwan Cellular Corp.), Asia Pacific Broadband Wireless Communications Inc., and VIBO Telecom Inc.

But while the alliance has only just been formed, there is already some dissension. Taiwan Mobile doubts the common platform idea will work because previous, similar efforts have failed, said T.C. Juan, a vice president at the company.

The government funding is the most important part of the alliance, he said. He expected hundreds of millions of Taiwanese dollars to be made available for research projects.

The government has said in the past that it considers 3G an important area for the island’s software developers, mobile phone manufacturers and service providers, Wei said.

The alliance members have yet to discuss issues to do with intellectual property rights for codeveloped applications, Wei said.