Taiwan to shut down 3G networks by year end

Taiwan's 3G networks will be removed by the end of the year and 5G services will not be available in the territory until 2020 at the earliest, according to reports.
Written by Cyrus Lee, Contributor

Consumers in Taiwan will only be able to use 4G services from 2019 as the government will shut down 3G services by the end of the year, according to a Sina news report on Monday, citing local Taiwan media reports.

Although the vast majority of the population in Taiwan have shifted to 4G networks, there are still around 200,000 consumers using 3G. This has prompted local carriers to roll out incentives and promotions to get 3G users to shift onto the latest 4G plans.

Taiwan's latest move to shut down 3G networks follows its earlier decision to remove all 2G networks on July 1, 2017, as local regulators and telecom operators continue to actively push for the development of 4G network coverage.

As of March this year, the number of 4G users has already exceeded the population in Taiwan, said the report. The number of 3G users has declined to some 228,000 people in mid-November from 5.5 million in 2017.

Although remaining 3G networks will be shut down in about two weeks, local regulators believe some 100,000 people will be unable to complete their upgrade to the LTE network before the start of 2019.

The timetable of 5G deployment in Taiwan remains uncertain as the market generally believes the government will not issue 5G licenses until 2020. This could mean Taiwan falls behind other economies where 5G trials have started, with Japan having started trials back in 2014.

In November, South Korean mobile operator LG Uplus said it has already completed the cell planning for the launch of 5G services in the country, with plans to launch its 5G service in Seoul and its surrounding area as soon as December 1.

Earlier this month, the Chinese government awarded the country's big three telecom operators -- China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom -- with 5G spectrum licences to help them complete 5G trials.

Smartphone brands including Samsung and Huawei have also both announced plans to launch 5G phones in 2019.

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