Six ICT Suppliers Show WiMAX Tech and Equipment at Computex Taipei 2010

President Ma Ying-jeou was again at the WiMAX hall of the Computex Taipei 2010 trade show, held June 1-5, for the third time since 2008 when WiMAX became a theme at the show. Computex Taipei is the world`s No.2 ICT trade fair, next only to the CeBIT of Germany.

President Ma Ying-jeou watches a screen demonstrating WiMAX application on a bus.

Taipei saw a broadband wireless network connecting the whole city while President Ma was mayor during the 1998-2006 term. That was amid many advances that pushed the city further toward a world-class urban center, as well as being a significant effort to upgrade Taiwan`s ICT sector, whose value totals around US$280 billion this year, globally third.

WiMAX is desirable for several reasons. WiMAX Forum President Ron Resnick once said at a forum in Taipei: “WiMax is the first technology that allows true mobile Internet speed wherever you go wireless.”

In addition to efficient data upload/download, around one-to-three megabit per-second on-the-move at speeds of 80 to 105 kilometers per hour and 10 Mbps while stationary, online WiMAX provides low cost data, Lonnie McAlister, product line manager of the Taiwan branch of Intel Microelectronics Asia Ltd. noted. “There is less IP structure, no royalties or low royalties. It goes through the industry certification process. So, that means a lot of people can compete and drive the cost down. That`s what WiMAX promises to bring. You can`t get that in 3G and you probably won`t get that in LTE [Long Term Evolution] either because it still has an IP royalty structure,” said McAlister in an interview with CENS (China Economic News Service). Intel is also eagerly promoting WiMAX applications, for which it has introduced microarchitecture including Intel Core and Intel Atom families.

Globally Driven
According to the Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute (MIC) of Taiwan government-backed Institute for Information Industry (III), WiMAX developments were particularly rapid in 2009 thanks to impressive investments worldwide, with the United States, India, Korea, Brazil, Russia, and Japan each injecting over US$1 billion into WiMAX projects.

The Taiwan government in 2005 launched the five-year “M-Taiwan” program to fund developments of WiMAX-based application services, equipment and infrastructure networks. According to the M-Taiwan Office under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, a sizable WiMAX supply chain has been established on the island at an investment of over US$250 million.

Such supply chain is mainly backed by six licensed providers who make everything from chips to end-user equipment and infrastructural equipment, making Taiwan a role model of emerging industries and, thus, convincing the WiMAX Forum to hold its third congress in Taipei in April this year, the first of its kind in Taiwan.

The six above-mentioned suppliers, competing to roll out niche applications, displayed such technologies at Computex Taipei 2010.

Tatung InfoComm Co., Ltd.
Tatung InfoComm Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of the Tatung Group, began delivering WiMAX services in April 2009 in Penghu County and Kaohsiung city and county, becoming Taiwan`s first, as well as doing the same in Hualien and Pingdong Counties early this year. Tatung showed at Computex Taipei online real-time emergency treatments, VoIP (voice over Internet protocol), smart power meter and mobile TV.

Tatung InfoComm`s intelligent power meter on WiMAX platform.

The smart power meter has an integrated WiMAX module enabling monitoring of real-time power consumption on wireless devices like laptop, handset, and netbook.

Tatung aims to sign up one million subscribers in five years. Chairperson W.Y. Lin Gou says Tatung will invest US$151 million over the next five years to develop new WiMAX services, made possible by having installed around 400 cell towers across Hualian, Pingdong, Kaohsiung and Penghu Counties and Kaohsiung City.

Global Mobile Corp.
Global Mobile Corp. started delivering WiMAX service in Hsinchu county and city in northern Taiwan in October last year. The company exhibited at Computex Taipei online surveillance of public constructions and homecare technology.

Global Mobile`s WiMAX-based disaster surveillance system.

Helping to enhance safety in public works, the company has set up surveillance systems using WiMAX platform at three bridges in northern Taiwan. Company executives say that official agencies handling emergencies and rescue can view real-time such bridges via mobile devices.

Global Mobile will spend approximately US$94.3 million over the next three years to install 1,000 cell towers and expand network coverage to include Taipei City and Taipei County, with its coverage in Hsinchu already reaching around 80% and to eventually increase to 95%.

Global Mobile will launch VoIP service sometime in the third quarter, becoming the third WiMAX provider in Taiwan to do so. Chairperson Rosemary Ho says phone calls can be made on the company`s WiMAX network with Wi-Fi phones or PCs installed with integrated access devices (IADs). Currently, wired Skype PCs and phones are the primary end-user tools to make VoIP calls.

Ho says her company has signed up a 1,000 additional WiMAX subscribers in each of the past few months to this May, adding the goal is to raise total subscribers to 30,000 by the end of this year, driven by increasing number of ADSL subscribers shifting to WiMAX and expanding WiMAX coverage.

Besides VoIP service, Global Mobile will also deliver mobile TV service by the end of this year, becoming Taiwan`s first WiMAX-service provider to offer mobile Internet connection, VoIP and mobile TV services.

Global Mobile has entered into alliance with Clearwire of the United States, currently the world-leader in WiMAX services by operational scale, by selling stock to Clearwire to facilitate such services in Taiwan.

Besides partnership with peers, Global Mobile is also cooperating with equipment suppliers to boost presence in the segment by introducing WiMAX equipment, including a WiMAX networking card to be introduced by the end of June and developed by Green Packet of Malaysian WiMAX service provider P1.

First International Telecom
First International Telecom (FITEL) demonstrated a spate of niche WiMAX applications including mobile home security, portable audio and video entertainment and mobile conferencing.

FITEL promotes mobile home security, portable audio and video entertainment and mobile conferencing.

FITEL displayed at Computex Taipei a remote-controlled robot coded “SKS No.5” for home-security, by which Wi-Fi wireless technology coupled with FITEL`s WiMAX network to provide high-definition real-time security monitoring anytime and anywhere. Multifunctional and developed with Shin Kong Security, this robot also handles online healthcare, entertainment, networking, and office building management.

Another item was the portable entertainment application offering high-definition real-time digital TV downloaded online over its WiMAX network integrated with set-box and card that it developed in cooperation with AverMedia Inc. Mobile devices like PDA, MID and laptop integrated with WiMAX cards or connected with standalone FITEL WiMAX cards allow viewing of cable TV online anytime and anywhere.

FITEL also showed a multi-conferencing application called FreePP Meeting Center (FMC), co-developed with wireless-equipment supplier Gemetk, which allows multi-party meetings online, as well as file sharing, web page and electronic whiteboard.

FITEL chairperson M.Y. Chang says the company will gradually shift its 600,000 PHS (personal handyphone system) subscribers to WiMAX network as part of its plan to set aside its PHS frequency to develop TD-LTE services jointly with mainland China`s telecom carriers.

Vee TIME Corp.
Vee TIME Corp., having launched WiMAX services in Taichung City and Taichung County this April, integrates FTTx (fiber to the x) with 4G WiMAX infrastructure to allow surfing online, watch interactive VeeTV, and make VoIP calls at home on fiber network, as well as providing WiMAX services for users on-the-move. The company has laid over 4,000-kilometers of optic-fiber cable in Taichung city and county, completing two-way link.

The company offers niche applications as such as offering via WiMAX advertising messages on onboard screens in 190 taxis and a few buses related to eateries, fashion, movies and shopping in Taichung, as well as real estate information anytime in Taichung.

Vee Time`s WiMAX service offered on 190 taxis and a few buses in Taichung.

Other WiMAX services offered by Vee TIME include remote real-time homecare, security monitoring, and Mobile Police, which allows patrol guards to beam live pictures via WiMAX with handheld devices to control centers. Mobile Police is designed for communities while home security monitoring is for single homes.

Another of Vee TIME`s WiMAX applications is a monitoring system mounted on vehicles, with onboard cameras allowing control centers to view real-time traffic around monitored vehicles and communicate with driver and passenger.

VMAX Telecom Co., Ltd.
VMAX Telecom Co., Ltd., a joint venture between Teco Electric & Machinery, Vibo Telecom, Tecom Inc., and Intel Capital, showed at Computex Taipei its “Live Demo” application, enabling transmission of live videos over its WiMAX network with smartphones equipped with the company`s WiMAX/Wi-Fi router.

Other WiMax applications shown included multimedia contents downloaded online over VMAX`s WiMAX network to TVs and VoIP.

Before offering WiMAX services this February, VMAX last year trial ran an application on 3,000 taxis in Taipei City, offering passengers to connect online to watch TV, play games, navigate with GPS, and search for information on the neighborhood on an onboard MID.

VAMX connects 3,000 taxis in Taipei via its WiMAX network.

After offering WiMax services this February at 100 shops in Taipei, VMAX has vowed to sign up 500,000 to one million subscribers in five years, and will invest some US$50 million to add 300 cell towers by the end of this year.

Intel bought a 19% stake in VMAX for US$11 million last year, as part of its commitment to spending at least US$500 million in five years on Taiwan`s WiMAX business.

“Intel`s investment in VMAX focuses on connecting VMAX to other WiMAX operators running on the Intel format and preventing VMAX from moving in the wrong direction, rather than as a capital investment,” emphasized VMAX President T.T. Huang.

FarEasTone Telecom Co., Ltd.
FarEasTone Telecom Co., Ltd. began offering WiMAX services in Taichung City in late 2009. The company tried to impress visitors at Computex Taipei its e-book reading application coupled with the cloud-computing library.

FarEasTone`s WiMax-based e-book reading application.

FarEastone began developing e-book reading application based on WiMAX network after receiving official funding last November. Its executives say e-book reading is eco-friendly for eliminating use of paper by allowing reading on smartphones, mobile Internet devices and electronic books.

According to Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute (MIC), Taiwan`s WiMAX development is also among the most vibrant worldwide, with total investment in base stations projected to reach US$3.09 billion by 2013. Worldwide, investments by WiMAX carriers in network deployment are estimated to reach US$36.5 billion in 2005-2013.

Consolidation Recommended
With none of Taiwan`s six WiMAX carriers licensed to cover the whole island, they lack enough capacity to achieve economy-of-scale. So the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and Intel are encouraging the six carriers to consolidate into one or two, in one of which Intel will invest.

Industry executives say the six carriers will likely merge into two to three by the end of this year and then one to two by the end of next year; while Vee Time chairman F.Y. Lai and VMAX`s Huang said in late May that the two companies may eventually merge as one.

Further fueling WiMAX development in Taiwan is the island`s ITC equipment industry, which fills over 80% of global need for WiMAX end-user equipment and has designed WiMAX modules into such equipment.

While Acer, Austek, Quanta and Elitegroup are competing to roll out WiMAX-embedded laptops and netbooks to serve WiMAX subscribers, Asustek Computer, D-Link, Zyxel Communications, and Accton Wireless Broadband are supplying USB dongles and other consumer premise equipment. HTC has even readied WiMAX-able smartphone.

WiMAX-embedded laptops and netbooks are on the rise.

Outlook
J.T. Wang, concurrently chairman of the Taipei Computer Association (TAC) and the Acer Group, predicts Taiwan will eventually leverage its lead in supplying end-user equipment to supply turnkey equipment. The TAC recently raised its 2010 revenue forecast for Taiwan`s WiMAX industry to US$543 million from US$468 million, suggesting contracts from emerging markets exceed expectations.

Last year saw the island`s WiMAX-equipment industry generate revenue of US$274 million by shipping 3.18 million sets of equipment.

MIC says beginning this year the island`s equipment manufacturers will focus on selling WiMAX-embedded equipment through carriers and system integrators, as their international rivals, to quickly meet market trends. (June 2010)

By CENS
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