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Consumer watchdog calls for further drop in telecom rates

2012/04/13 22:21:42

Taipei, April 13 (CNA) Taiwan's five major telecom companies should cut their call rates by at least half as they are unreasonably higher than those in neighboring countries, a consumer watchdog said Friday.

The average call rates in Taiwan for both cellphone and fixed line services are between two and eight times more expensive than China Mobile's services and Hong Kong's SmartTone and 3 Hong Kong, and 1.9-4.4 times higher than Singapore's SingTel, said Consumers' Foundation Chief Secretary Chen Chih-yi, citing the results of a survey carried out by thefoundation.

Although local telecom companies already cut their rates by 3.58-3.7 percent from this month and the total decrease reached 12 percent over the past three years, the survey, conducted between late March and early April, indicates that they are still higher than the rates in other countries in the region, Chen added.

In response to the foundation's report, the Taiwan Telecommunication Industry Development Association said telecom service rates have fallen by over 50 percent in the past decade,although prices of various daily necessities have risen.

Taiwan also has much lower rates than the global average, the association added.

Research carried out in 2011 by the association also suggestedthat Taiwan's rates were low when taking into account severalvariables, including people's purchasing power, the gross domesticproduct and promotional pricing, the association added.

In addition, the basis for comparison with China and Hong Kong is flawed because both those regions charge both callers and receivers, it pointed out.

The rate structure also has to consider many aspects such as market size, competition in the market, policy controls and social costs, the association said.

Any discussion of rates should be rational and multilateral ratherthan a one- sided criticism of the services provided by an industry,it added.

(By Lin Meng-ju, Lin Yi-feng and Kendra Lin)