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Taiwan Accelerates 5G Wireless Plan

Nov 18, 2013 | By Ken Liu

Premier Jiang Yi-huah announced that Taiwan would put its 5G wireless plan into "preparatory" mode next year by releasing a 5G strategic initiative in six months. The announcement came shortly after senior government officials from Taiwan and mainland China openly discussed cooperation between the two sides on 5G wireless development at a high-profile trade meeting held in central Taiwan on August 27.

Jiang instructed ministries under the Executive Yuan, Taiwan's Cabinet, to hold cross-ministry meetings to work out the initiative for the year 2020. He pointed out that developing next-generation wireless technology will drive the island's innovation and economic growth in the future and urged Taiwan to catch up with other economic powers in developing the technology now.

According to Minister without Portfolio S.C. Chang, who is responsible for holding a meeting on Taiwan's 5G industry development strategy by the end of this year, 2020 is the year that the international wireless industry expects the 5G communications standard and technology to mature.

The planned meeting on development strategy aims at forging agreement among industry, government and academic circles in Taiwan over how to use the infant stage of the 5G industry as an opportunity to give Taiwan a leading role in the 5G era.

Chang points out that Taiwan has traditionally been a follower in the development of wireless technology. However, it's not too late for Taiwan to launch its 5G project next year since the United States, Japan, mainland China and South Korea only began implementing such projects in the last two years.

Taiwan's 5G strategy initiative is expected to build technical autonomy and intellectual property muscle for the island's 5G industry in the six years to 2020. It will also raise the visibility and voice of Taiwan's 5G industry in international technology-standard forums through cooperation between Taiwan and mainland China.

Senior government officials in Taiwan point out that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have talked repeatedly on 5G cooperation issues, including co-development of related technologies and standards. The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) is planning to advance cooperation in this area through platforms built on the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), which was signed in 2010 to foster economic and trade ties between the two sides.

At the August 27 meeting, Deputy Minister Liu Lihua of the mainland's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) expressed hope that Taiwanese manufacturers would promptly develop a presence in the 5G industry and work with the mainland to develop relevant technologies and standards so that the two sides can tap business in the world market together.

During his stay in Taiwan, Liu invited M.K. Tsai, chairman of fabless house MediaTek Inc.; Terry Gou, chairman of the Hon Hai Group; and the heads of HTC Corp. and Delta Electronics Inc. to join the mainland's "IMT 2020 (5G) Promotion Group," which was co-organized by the mainland's MIIT, National Development and Reform Commission and Ministry of Science and Technology.

Liu felt that the cross-strait cooperation on 5G development should be "early, deep and broad." He further explained that "early" means early planning, early action and early involvement; "deep" means cooperation should not stop at industry transformation and equipment purchase, but should expand into close cooperation on technology R&D, standard setting and brand promotion; and that "broad" means co-marketing in the global market.

The open discussion of cross-strait cooperation on 5G development at the August 27 meeting came as a surprise to the attendees as 4G originally topped the agenda. The two sides are scheduled to issue 4G operation licenses by the end of this year. The agenda was changed on grounds that 248 telecom carriers worldwide had begun providing 4G service, damping the importance of the year-end license issues in Taiwan and the mainland.

Vice Economic Minister T.J. Duh, Taiwan government's top representative at the meeting, said that Taiwan and the mainland should not play catch-up in the standard and technology aspects of the 5G era as they had in the 2G, 3G and 4G stages. He hoped that cooperation between the two sides could achieve this goal of making Asia the global center of the telecommunications industry and the two sides of Taiwan Strait the center of the Asian telecommunications sector.

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