Broadband for Villages
1. Origin of policy
* The government began to facilitate the policy of Telephones for Villages in 1976 in order to enhance social well-being for the general public. In 1996, the government began the liberalization of telecommunications to ensure the fundamental communication rights of the citizens so that the entire population can enjoy tantamount, reasonably-priced telecommunication service at a certain quality. As such, it set up Telecommunications Universal Services Fund to safeguard the communication rights of people in remote areas. After more than thirty years since its origins, the policy Broadband for Villages is now being promoted by the NCC to satisfy the needs of digital convergence and the approaching e-generation.
* Since the implementation of universal telecommunication service in 2002, the universal rate of local phone system has reached 97.56%. Thus, in a period of six years the trend of voice services has almost become ultimately universal.
* In view of the social development as an information community in the 21st century, broadband internet (data communication) access has already become a primary means for one to obtain information and knowledge. But the provision of voice services is never sufficient to catch up with the needs of times. Moreover, residents in remote areas have oftentimes been shunned from the benefits fair broadband Internet data communication service provides.
* In reference to EU’s universal service direction of “Basic Telephone Service” in 2002, data communication was included in the scope of universal services.
* In order to achieve and reduce differences between urban and rural areas, NCC has, in its administrative plan for 2006, set its administrative objectives as “Protecting citizens and consumers interests” and “Increasing cultural diversity and respect for the under-privileged” so as to enhance the operation effect of its universal service system as well as expand the scope of implementation.
2. Law modification for policy realization
* Regulations on Telecommunications Universal Service” were modified on December 29, 2006, to include data communications into the scope of universal service. To shorten the time-span of construction, it has further added that Type I telecommunication service providers can be assigned before June 1, 2007 to provide data communication universal service to specific towns and villages according the demand of the non-economical areas, helping our universal telecommunication system move forward.
* It has been the objective to quickly enhance the data communication access to remote areas and the under-privileged as soon as possible so that the policy objectives of Broadband for Villages and Telephones for Households can be achieved.
3. Appointed construction and sources of funding
* NCC , on May 31, 2007, appointed Chunghwa Telecom Company Limited to undertake construction of broadband network to 8 Counties, 24 Townships, 43 Villages, and Taiwan Fixed Network Company Limited to undertake construction of broadband network and provide data communication access universal service to 3 villages in Alishan Township of Chiayi County. Please refer to the website of the commission on http://www.ncc.gov.tw/村村有寬頻專區(section of Every Village has broadband service)
* Except the project of Haochu Village of Pingdong County that was affected by typhoon and the date of completion was postponed to the end of February 2008, the construction of 45 villages were completed by December 15, 2007 - ahead of schedule. It allows the residents in remote areas to access broadband internet service of at least 2Mbps, making Taiwan the first country to deploy broadband to all villages.
* Source of funding: the total expenditure of construction at the 46 villages is estimated at NT$96.5 million, and thanks to the design of the Telecommunications Universal Service Fund this project is jointly shared by Type I and II telecom service providers of voice re-sale and network phone whose annual business turnover achieve more than NT$200 million (18 operators) - as they share on a pro rata basis year by year. As such, they will jointly shoulder the social responsibility as corporations of telecom service providers who offer the entire community with necessary and basic communication service at a reasonable price.
4. Practical benefits
* Helps enhance the universal rate of broadband in remote areas, reduces the digital divide, and connects with the world.
* Provides access for elementary and junior-high school students to now access academic networks via broadband at home, and enhance their learning capability.
* With broadband network E-learning, promotes aboriginal language through network, and preserves aboriginal culture;
* With network marketing (culture, features of gourmet food, humanity landscape, handicraft artworks, tourism and travel, and hostel), develops tourism travel, stimulates agricultural development, prospers local economies, and ultimately increases job opportunities, allowing young people to return to their hometown for service
* Villages and tribes can make use of network and high-efficiency communication tools (such as E-mail and MSN) to be connected with government websites, enhancing its administration efficiency.
* Quadruple Play or Multiple Pay- Satisfies the local line, public phone, broadband internet access, MOD service and mobile communication services needs of tribal habitats at the same time.
* The Broadband Internet Service speed has been increased by 12 folds within 1 year.
* Provides rescue and emergency medical service for remote tribes and villages
With all villages connected, and a significant reduction of the digital divide, Taiwan has become the first nation in the world to provide broadband to all its villages. Under the operation and system of Telecommunications Universal Services Fund, NCC , on 2007, appointed Chunghwa Telecom Company Limited and Taiwan Fixed Network Company Limited to construct data communication access universal services at 46 remote villages so that residents there can enjoy a broadband internet service of at least 2M speed.