The National Communications Commission (NCC) recently approved the first application for 5G spectrum sharing under the new Telecoms Act. The application was jointly filed by FarEasTone and Asia Pacific Telecom. While it granted the approval, the NCC placed independent network management obligations on the two operators and instructed them to build a joint task force to ensure compliance with enhanced network and information security requirements.
Taiwanese mobile operators are aiming for mass user migration to 5G networks in 2021, following confirmation that a special government budget of approximately NT$15.5 billion has been allocated to a subsidy scheme for 5G network deployment between 2021 and 2022. It is forecasted that 5G users will account for 30% of total mobile broadband subscribers in 2021, compared with approximately 6% in 2020.
The National Communications Commission recently issued an official order of recall against Taiwan Mobile, one of the country's top three mobile operators. The order concerned Taiwan Mobile's self-branded smartphone (the Amazing A32), which had been supplied by a Chinese company and was sold to more than 94,191 subscribers between April 2018 and July 2020. Although not uncommon in China, this was the first security breach involving a smartphone in Taiwan.
The new Telecoms Act came into effect on 1 July 2020. The licences of incumbent telecoms operators will expire on 30 June 2023 if not earlier on their registration with the National Communications Commission (NCC). While the Taiwan telecoms regulatory regime is switching from heavy-handed regulation to light-touch administration as the NCC claims, the NCC has published a guideline on the registration of telecoms service providers and responses to FAQs on its official website.
Subsequent to the requisition of selected airtime from 213 TV channels and 161 radio stations nationwide since 22 January 2020, the National Communications Commission recently announced its subsidy policy for compensating the direct cost of labour incurred by the operators involved (ie, each TV channel operator will be paid NT$24,000 (approximately $842) per month between 22 January 2020 and 30 June 2021 and each radio station operator will be paid NT$3,000 (approximately $105)).
The National Communications Commission recently announced that the government will allocate NT$26.65 billion from 2021 to 2025 to subsidise the 5G network deployment of five telecoms operators under the premium bid prize collected from the 5G spectrum auction in January 2020. The government intends to reach a penetration rate of 50%, 60% and 70% of the 5G population in non-remote areas by 2021, 2022 and 2023, respectively.
All five Taiwanese 5G operators were recently listed as 'clean' 5G networks by the United States. The National Communications Commission has welcomed this international collaboration and commented that similar programmes previously applied to Taiwan 4G networks and kept Chinese hardware companies such as Huawei and ZTE out of Taiwan's 4G infrastructure.
The Taiwanese government recently accelerated its ban on Chinese over-the-top (OTT) TV services in Taiwan. As of 3 September 2020, no entities, legal persons or individuals in Taiwan may act as business agents, carry out resales or provide intermediary services for Chinese OTT TV services. Non-compliance with the ban could result in an administrative fine of NT$50,000 to NT$5 million per case and to a cease and desist order from the National Communications Commission.
A new bill to establish the Ministry of Digital Development is being prepared by Cabinet and will be proposed to the Legislative Yuan in September 2020 for review. According to President Tsai Ing-wen's recent inauguration address, the Ministry of Digital Development will be an industry-oriented government agency for business development in the IT, cybersecurity, telecoms, internet and media sectors.
The National Communications Commission (NCC) recently reviewed and updated its checklist for radio frequency equipment. The NCC nevertheless underlined that deregulated equipment will remain subject to compliance with the technical specifications of low-power radio frequency equipment, which were previously amended on 23 August 2016.
The National Communications Commission recently issued a notice of alert to all licence holders (including terrestrial TV channels, radio stations, satellite TV channels, cable TV channels and telecoms operators) which demands that they stop carrying ads, promotions or sponsorship for Chinese over-the-top (OTT) TV services, specifically We TV and Iqiyi, and requires compliance with bans on Chinese OTT TV services under the governing law administered by the Mainland Affairs Council.
The new Telecommunications Act will take effect and apply to all telecoms service providers from July 2020. The new act has adopted a light-handed approach to the regulation of telecoms services provided in Taiwan with the exception of identified significant market powers in telecoms. The new act defines 'significant market powers in telecoms' and authorises the National Communications Commission to take anti-monopoly measures when necessary.
The National Communications Commission (NCC) recently published a new compliance approval regulation for telecoms devices. The regulation clarified that the NCC may void approval issued to handsets supplied by Chinese telecoms manufacturers for changing the built-in region caller ID setting from 'Taiwan' to 'Taiwan, China' if this issue is not fixed promptly.
The National Communications Commission recently reached an agreement with the Ministry of Education that due to possible school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic, Channel 3 of Public Television Services will be assigned to provide support for distance learning to meet the needs of junior and high schools nationwide.
Taiwan has swiftly adopted the 'digital fence' system, whereby the location of anyone required to undergo home quarantine due to COVID-19 is monitored via their phone's cellular signal. This approach seems less intrusive than other options and has been an efficient tool for containing the virus. However, deploying these technologies on such a large scale without undertaking testing has incited criticism that law enforcement departments are bypassing the Communication Security and Surveillance Act.
The National Communications Commission has requisitioned selected airtime from 213 TV channels and 161 radio stations nationwide. Each of the selected TV channels must allocate 24 minutes each weekday and 10 minutes each weekend day to broadcast a one-minute short film with open captions every hour offering health-related information and updates from the Taiwan Centre for Disease Control in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Taiwan's 5G spectrum auction came to an end on 21 February 2020. The five incumbents secured the 5G spectrum following a competitive auction with total bids reaching NT$142.191 billion (approximately $4.7 billion) which will be paid within 30 days following the National Communications Commission's notice. The regulation governing mobile broadband services requires operators to file for an amendment to their deployment plan and information security plan subsequent to the bid price being paid.
In September 2019 a landmark appeal court decision found an online information service provider liable for consequential damages of data theft. Before this decision, most data theft cases in civil actions were resolved by a summary judgment under the Personal Data Protection Act, which offers claimants statutory compensation for non-pecuniary damages of between NT$500 and NT$20,000 per incident.
The new Telecommunications Act, which enters into force in June 2022, will replace the conventional Type I and II telecom licence categories (ie, facility-based and service-based operators, respectively) which were adopted in 1996 with a more liberal approach and give the National Communications Commission more scope with regard to spectrum management and licensing.