Executive summary of December 2014 issue
The Arrival of the 4G Era
In 2014 Taiwan formally entered the 4G era, as several telecommunications companies began to offer customers Fourth Generation (4G) mobile technology services. Though the number of 4G subscribers is still fairly limited at the moment, it is certain to grow dramatically in the years ahead. What promise does 4G hold? What changes will 4G networks bring to our daily lives? In this month’s issue, we have invited several authorities from both the public and private sector to share their insights on the matter.
Faster speeds, fewer delays
Jason Yi-bing Lin, deputy minister of Science and Technology, writes that compared to 3G networks, 4G offers higher broadband speeds and lower latency periods. In other words, consumers will be able to download more information more quickly and with fewer delays. This in turn will spur the further development of new technologies such as mobile videos, the Internet of Things (IoT), mobile payment services, cloud computing and the Internet of Everything (IoE). Lin further writes that the government will keep five broad objectives in mind as it supervises the introduction of 4G networks: building up a viable Internet infrastructure, creating innovative services, protecting the rights of consumers, developing broadband technology, and nurturing talented individuals with relevant expertise.
Phenomenal growth expected
Tsai Kuo-tung, senior specialist of the Telecommunications Administration Department under the National Communications Commission (NCC), writes that the need for 4G networks became ever more evident and pressing, as more and consumers began using mobile applications such as smartphones and tablet computers. Thus in 2013 the NCC announced it would conduct a 4G mobile spectrum auction. After almost 400 rounds of bidding, six private companies emerged as the winners: Ambit Microsystems Corp, Asia Pacific Telecom Co., Ltd., Chunghwa Telecom Co., Ltd., FarEasTone Telecommunications (FET) Co., Ltd., Taiwan Mobile Co., Ltd., and Taiwan Star Cellular Co., Ltd. Tsai further writes that according to projections compiled by these companies, in the next five years the number of 4G subscribers in Taiwan is expected to reach 17 million, or more than 12 times the number of subscribers expected after the first year of operations. The NCC will work hard to ensure that fair competition results in maximum benefits for consumers, he adds, noting that the commission will require companies to provide access to 4G networks in both urban and rural areas.
New business opportunities
Even though the development of mobile broadband has already been phenomenal, there is still tremendous room for further growth, writes Rick Tsai, chairman of Chunghwa Telecom Co. Many businesses—such as telecommunications companies, content providers, advertisers, and gaming companies—will grow by leaps and bounds, thanks to the arrival of 4G. Consumers, in turn, will enjoy unprecedented access to all sorts of mobile multimedia. Using Chunghwa Telecom as an example, he notes that it already offers High Definition television, loss-less music services, 3D navigation, Cloud Gaming services, and e-books with both sound and visual effects. A new era of economic prosperity is not far off, he predicts.
The advent of 4G means that e-commerce will take off as never before, according to Richard Tsai, chairman of Taiwan Mobile Co., Ltd. Citing official figures, Tsai notes that the e-commerce market in Taiwan is expected to reach a staggering NT$1 trillion in 2015. Companies that want to thrive in the 4G world will need to adapt to a dizzying array of new marketing methods, such as business-to-consumer (B2C) commerce, customer-to-consumer (C2C) commerce, and online-to-offline (O20) commerce. The general public will have access to new goods such as Augmented Reality apps, location-based-services (LBS), and individualized and personalized services that cater to their every whim.
Brave New World
We are entering a new era that will completely transform our lives, writes Douglas Hsu, chairman and CEO of the Far Eastern Group. He notes that the words of Marc Andreessen—“Software is eating the word”—are even more applicable today than when they were first uttered in 2011. Indeed, well-known companies such as Amazon, Skype, LinkedIn, and Google are all essentially software businesses. Software companies will put a majority of traditional companies out of business, Hsu predicts. He also notes that software companies could not have reached their present state without the Internet, which is becoming the very fabric of modern life, knitting all of us closely together. A brave new world is just around the corner, thanks to the Internet and the digitalization of everyday life, Hsu concludes.
This month’s issue also includes a discussion on trade relations between China and South Korea. The discussion, between Wang Jiann-Chyuan, research fellow and director of the Taiwan Economy Division of Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (CIER), and Bert J. Lim, president of The World Economics Society, is especially timely in light of the Free Trade Agreement recently concluded between the two nations.