By Jens Kastner
As a measure to accelerate Taiwan’s development of 4G wireless services, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) plans to fund operators of smart city applications starting in 2015 for a total of three years. Paid for by a NT$15 billion (US$500 million) fund allocated in late 2013 to speed up 4G development in Taiwan, telecom or information technology operators will be invited to apply for subsidies for 4G smart city applications such as those involving water management, air quality improvement, and electricity saving.
“We want to help Taiwan compete in 4G-related manufacturing, services, and total solutions with South Korea, which launched 4G services in 2011[three years ahead of Taiwan],” says Lin Ching-chin, chief of the Industrial Development Bureau’s Information Technology Division.
“Another of our objectives is that more Taiwanese cities will be honored in the Intelligent Community of the Year Award, following Taipei, Taichung, and Taoyuan, which have all previously made it into the award’s Top 7.”
The award is given out each year by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF), a New York-based think tank “that studies the economic and social development of the 21st Century community,” according to its website.
The MOEA is projected to allocate a budget of NT$5.18 billion for the smart city subsidy, with NT$2.5 billion planned for the first year, NT$1.3 billion for the second year and NT$1.4 billion for the final year. Lin points out that while international companies are generally “very welcome to join Taiwan’s efforts in developing smart city applications, the subsidy can only be applied for by foreign companies that already have established a foothold in Taiwan.”
Richard C.T. Wong, an analyst with the Taipei-based Market Intelligence and Consulting Institute, affirms the strategic wisdom of the project. “Other than leveraging the existing 4G infrastructure of operators, the project also helps consolidate the resources of the government, industry, and academia sectors,” he says.
As an additional measure to help the 4G business, the government has been releasing public buildings, including post offices, fire stations, police stations, and other government buildings, for the establishment of 4G base stations. In late November, the National Communications Commission (NCC) also announced that all new public housing projects and business premises covering at least 1,000 square meters will “soon” be required to install fiber-optic cables as part of the infrastructure to enable high-speed broadband internet services.