Taiwan Business in Brief – March 2020

5G AUCTION EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS 

Taiwan has completed both phases of its 5G spectrum auction, raising a total of NT$142.19 billion (US$4.7 billion), the third-highest amount worldwide behind Germany and Italy. The first phase of the auction, which took place between December 10 and January 16 and involved 261 rounds, offered 270 MHz in the 3.5GHz band, 2,500 MHz in the 28GHz band, and 20MHz in the 1.8GHz band. During that round NT$138 billion (US$4.6 billion) worth of spectrum was sold off.  

The second phase was held on February 1 and generated another NT$4.11 billion (US$135.2 million). Chung-hwa Telecom made the largest bid in both phases, buying up 90 MHz of the 3.5GHz range and 600MHz of the 28GHz high band. It plans to launch its 5G services in July. FarEasTone and Taiwan Mobile were the second and third highest bidders, while Taiwan Star secured 40MHz of mid-band spectrum.  

Asia Pacific Telecom, Taiwan’s smallest operator, withdrew from the 3.5GHz auction, but said it would look at sharing spectrum with another telecom. 

FAR EASTERN AIR LICENSE REVOKED 

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications in late January revoked the civil aviation license for local airline Far Eastern Air Transport (FAT) and fined the company NT$3 million (US$99,174). The punitive measures were taken after the airline unexpectedly announced last December that it was stopping all flights, citing huge losses and an inability to source new funds. 

FAT later petitioned MOTC for reinstatement of its license, arguing that the announcement had arisen from a misunderstanding among its management. The ministry refused, however, saying that the carrier’s termination of service had violated the Civil Aviation Act. Under that law, an airline can only halt its flights after it has received approval from Taiwan’s aviation authorities.  

The revocation of FAT’s license leaves its 900 employees without jobs. The Ministry of Labor has pledged to help them find new jobs and apply for unemployment benefits, as well as to allocate funds to compensate employees for outstanding salary payments. 

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