Taiwan’s NCC conditionally approves two big mobile mergers

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CommsUpdate: Taiwan’s National Communications Commission (NCC) has announced its conditional approval for two high profile mergers: one between Taiwan Mobile and Taiwan Star, and the other involving Asia Pacific Telecom (APT) and Far EasTone Telecommunications (FET).

According to the Taipei Times, the Commission’s approval of both mergers is conditional on both Taiwan Mobile and FET – which will be the surviving companies following the two mergers – disposing of bandwidth they will hold that is in excess of local spectrum caps.

Excess spectrum

Upon merging with Taiwan Star, Taiwan Mobile will have access to 60 MHz of sub-1-GHz spectrum, a figure which exceeds one third of the total amount in that range (150 MHz) which has been made available by the authorities. As such, it will be required to divest 10 MHz of its frequencies.

Meanwhile, following its merger with APT, FET will be required to relinquish excess spectrum it will hold in bands below 3 GHz (13 MHz of excess frequencies); bands between 3 GHz and 6 GHz (3 MHz); and bands above 24 GHz (160 MHz).

Taiwan Mobile and FET can voluntarily return this excess spectrum to the government, or can opt to transfer it to (or exchange it with) other operators that are not subsidiaries, associates or business partners. The companies must divest any excess spectrum by June 2024, or they could face fines of up to NT$5 million ($165,000).

Other NCC conditions

With regards to other conditions which have been agreed to by the parties involved, both Taiwan Mobile and FET will be required to increase 4G coverage to 99% of the population and 5G coverage to 98% by 2027.

Both of the enlarged entities have also reportedly committed to spending a total of NT$60 billion over the next four years to build network infrastructure using the increased bandwidth they will control as enlarged entities.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that both mergers still require approval from Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC).

Taiwan Mobile and FET will also still be required to complete administrative procedures at the Ministry of Digital Affairs, the Securities and Futures Bureau and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, ahead of being able to finalise their respective tie-ups.

Related article: APT and FET reveal spectrum swap details of their grand merger plan

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