In accordance with Article 5 of the Fundamental Communications Act— “communications and disseminations should safeguard human dignity, respect the rights of minorities and advance balanced development of cultural diversity” — the NCC is active in its promotion of universal service and strives to ensure effective results are continuously shown.
According to Item 4 of Article 20 of the Telecommunications Act, NCC is authorized to establish a telecommunications universal service system implemented through Regulations on Telecommunications Universal Service. The scope includes providing telephone service, public telephone service, and access to data communications at preferential prices to elementary, junior high, and high schools, as well as public libraries in uneconomical areas. In December 2006, Regulations on Telecommunications Universal Service were revised to include data communication access. In 2007, to satisfy the demands of uneconomical areas, Type 1 telecommunications businesses were appointed to provide data communication access service in specific villages and neighborhoods by June 1, 2007. Construction was planned for completion by the end of 2007. Providing such universal service significantly helps reduce the digital divide between those in rural and urban areas. Moreover, it enhances protection for minorities’ rights.
According to the revised Regulations on Telecommunications Universal Service, Chunghwa Telecom and Taiwan Fixed Network were chosen to provide universal access of data communications service to 46 villages and neighborhoods. These two providers had completed the setting-up of all construction by February 2008. Taiwan became the first country in the world to effectively provide broadband to all villages.
To ensure the expansion of the broadband network further to outlying islands and remote tribes, the NCC continues to oversee telecommunications providers set up broadband internet service in rural areas. This is in accordance with one of its fundamental principles, safeguard people’s basic rights to data communication access. In February 2008, Regulations on Telecommunications Universal Service were revised again. Item 3 of Article 17 stipulates: “According to needs of uneconomical areas, the authorities concerned should designate proprietors or other type 1 telecommunications businesses to provide universal service of data communication access in specific villages and neighborhoods by June 1, 2008.”
As promised, on June 2, 2008, Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Fixed Network, and TINP MSO were appointed to set up broadband internet devices in fifty tribes (neighborhoods) all over Taiwan. The three providers completed this one-year project by deploying a broadband network system for all the tribes (neighborhoods) by December 13, 2008.
2. Push ahead with convenient use of data communication access service in remote areas
Although the fundamental construction of the broadband network has been completed, some areas still need attention. For example, educational training, application and promotion with regards to computer software, hardware, and designing, maintaining and operating websites, web pages, and blogs, etc. All these are brought into consideration so that the inhabitants’ capacity of using information technology in remote areas can be improved. Meanwhile, they can enjoy a convenient broadband service comparable with those in urban areas.
The NCC hopes that relevant governmental departments and proprietors can cooperate and contribute to the society by improving conditions in remote areas. Asides from 107 computers and 132 monitors having been transferred to rural areas, other telecommunications proprietors and volunteer groups have been encouraged to take similar actions. Besides building up broadband network for remote areas, proprietors also try to carry out various packaging measures in different regions. In doing so, it is hoped that broadband service can reach all people in such regions, make good use of various resources provided through the broadband network, and generally create more opportunities and benefits. The following organizations have taken the following measures to better communities in remote areas:
(1) Chunghwa Telecom:
A. Responsible for 33 information education training courses hoped to achieve the aim of shortening digital divide in rural areas.
B Donated 436 pieces of computer equipment.
C Provided broadband internet service at reduced prices, especially to financially poor minorities, excluding elementary school students, in 2008.
(2) Taiwan Fixed Network CO., LTD.:
A. Organized 4 information educational training courses in Shanmei, Chashan and Shichun Villages for free. There were around 150 villagers participating in the courses in total.
B Helped Shanmei, Chashan and Shichun Villages set up websites and blogs for guest house service and mechanisms for online guest house reservations and online booking of agricultural products and supply them with website space and a management system for free.
C. Offered broadband internet service at reduced prices.
D. Donate 75 packages of computers and software. Taiwan Mobile and Taiwan Fixed Network donated 1,500 volumes of books. Taiwan Mobile Foundation Shanmei Community Network Library Center was founded in Shanmei Village.
3. Publicize data communication access service and organize a launching ceremony for the broadband network.
In 2008, the NCC supervised universal service providers to build broadband networks in tribes (neighborhoods) in remote areas and also cooperated with Chunghwa Telecom to organize five launching ceremonies for broadband networks and convene forums to promote broadband internet service and its supply of knowledge (described below).
In addition, the NCC has also been active in assisting local elementary and high schools, libraries, churches and villagers apply, set up and use broadband network. For example, proprietors supply services with favorable prices; some institutions and volunteer groups offer their help by donating computers and giving information educational trainings and improving signal quality of local mobile phones, wire TV, wireless TV, and satellite communications, etc. These can increase universal access to communications.
(1) On July 22, 2008, the launching ceremony for broadband internet service three neighborhoods took place in Caoshan Village, Fanlu Township, and Chiayi County. Chunghwa Telecom was in charge of building the broadband network in this village. The relay transmission system adopts optical cable technology. In indoor telephone service, cables are made of copper. The broadband internet service is connected with an optical cable with structure of GeSW+ADSL and can provide a maximum speed as high as 8M/640K (best effort), with the highest download speed as fast as 2M~8M.
(2) On November 7, 2008, the launching ceremony for broadband internet service for three aboriginal tribes of Jiazhi, Zhiji, and Jinnuan took place in Xiayun Village, Fuxing Township, Taoyuan County took place. The problem of there having been no broadband network for aboriginal tribes has been solved. Hopefully, villagers can learn their own Atayal tribal language through broadband network e-learning. It is hoped that such an improvement in internet service can also promote the tourist industry of Fusing Township, Taoyuan County and aboriginal culture, advance development of agricultural villages, increase employment opportunities, and shorten educational divides between urban and rural areas.
(3) On November 2, 2008, the launching ceremony for the broadband internet service took place in Caoshui Tribe, Gaozhong Village, Taoyuan Township, and Kaohsiung County. Chunghwa Telecom established data communication access to around 20 households of this tribe. The highest broadband internet speed reaches 8Mbps /640Kbps. It has improved this remote area’s basic telecommunications quality and its people’s communications with outside world. Hopefully, villagers can learn their own aboriginal language through broadband network e-learning. It is hoped that such an improvement of internet can also promote the tourist industry in the tribes of Taoyuan Township and aboriginal culture, advance agricultural development, increase employment opportunities, and reduce educational divides between urban and rural areas.
(4) On November 29th, 2008, the launching ceremony for the broadband internet service took place in Guchuan Tribe, Wutai Village, Wutai Township, and Pingdong County. Chunghwa Telecom installed data communication access to around 50 households of this tribe. The highest broadband internet speed reaches 8Mbps /640Kbps. It has improved this remote area’s basic telecommunication quality and environment and let its people be able to communicate with outside world. Hopefully, villagers can learn their own aboriginal language through broadband network e-learning. It is hoped that such an improvement of internet can promote the tourist industry of the tribes of Wutai Township and its aboriginal culture, advance agricultural development, increase employment opportunities, and reduce educational divides between urban and rural areas.
(5)On December 12th, 2008, the launching ceremony for the data broadband internet service was held in Bailan Tribe, Taoshan Village, Wufong Township, and Hsinchu County. The technology of the broadband network in this tribe is “optical cable +DSLAM+WiFi” whose setup was completed on November 13, 2008. The rate of using broadband in Bailan Tribe was transformed to 35.29 percent from zero. With such a great improvement, this aboriginal tribe can enjoy the same service quality of data communications through broadband as those in urban areas. By having broadband information high-speed highways set up, it is hoped that, with introduction of broadband, this rural area can be smoothly linked with the world.
4. Push ahead with Broadband for Villages and Broadband for Tribes and achieve beneficial results.
(1) The remote villages and neighborhoods mentioned have been supplied with an internet speed of at least 2Mbps/256k. People can use internet to apply for all kinds of online services of the Government. It can achieve the aim of “using more internet and fewer roads” — avoiding fatigue caused from too much travelling, saving energy and reducing carbon emissions, and generally saving time in traveling to and fro.
(2) Coordinating with the Executive Yuan’s policy of reducing the digital divide, the Ministry of Education has carried out “the promotion plan of creating opportunities for remote and rural areas,” and has set up 168 Digital Opportunity Centers” in townships, towns and cities of remote areas. Through the plan and centers, people can freely use computers and internet-related equipment themselves. Also, children can have e-learning after classes. The NCC cooperates with relevant ministries and departments, local governments, private sectors and schools to advance Broadband for Villages and Broadband for Tribes. The NCC also offers more convenient environment, such as online service at home and signal improvement, to people and enhances the number of users of internet access and communications quality in remote areas.
(3) The NCC makes regular on-the-spot investigations in villages and neighborhoods to determine the reach of broadband and discusses the results in formal meetings. Besides being able to understand local inhabitants’ needs of broadband network and agricultural products, tourist resources and cultural characteristics, the NCC promotes its measures and actions in order to implement policies and enhance its positive image.
(4) Enable Taiwan to become an advanced country with Broadband everywhere
Broadband for Villages is one of sub-projects of Challenge 2008: National Development Plan — e-Taiwan Construction Plan. This project’s original goal in the specific period was that by the end of 2008, broadband coverage rate could reach 99.6% of villages and neighborhoods. To positively eliminate the gap of broadband data access service, the NCC decided to list this matter in 2007 implementation plan. As a result, by the end of 2007, the actual broadband coverage rate reached 99.99%. Consequently, It was achieved one year earlier than originally expected. In addition, in Haocha Village, Pingdong County, due to a typhoon, the project had no choice but to delay. In spite of this unpredictable natural incident, it was finally completed in February, 2008. Ultimately, in 2007, the coverage rate of Broadband for Villages reached 100% - with an impressive service of at least 2Mbp. With such efficiency and great results, Taiwan can be undoubtedly considered as one of the most advanced countries around the globe with regards to broadband coverage.
(5) After constructing broadband access networks in 46 remote villages and neighborhoods was advanced in 2007, the following benefits can be noted:
A. Reduces information gaps of education in remote areas.
B. Solves the problem of students without broadband access at home, despite use at school.
C. Develops ecological tourism and boosts agricultural development, to increase employment opportunities and help along young people coming back to contribute to their own tribes.
D. Introduces tribal culture, languages, cuisine, humanistic landscape, handcrafts, tourist resources, guest houses, agricultural products, etc., and generally improves the economy of tribes and connects them to the world.
E. Uses Quadruple Play or Multiple Play to solve problems of indoor telephone in tribes, public telephone, broadband internet, multimedia on demand (MOD) service and mobile communications service.
F. Increases internet speed by 12 times within one year (from 56kbps via dial up internet or 256kbps via long-distance supply into 2Mbps).
G. e-learning: promotes learning of aboriginal languages and long-distance education via internet.
H. Connects with government websites and uses instant messenger tools (E-mail or MSN) in order to improve administrative efficiency in remote areas.
I. In aboriginal tribes, broadband network available to everyone leads aboriginal culture and languages standards to improve on average.
(6) Publicize the communications complaints procedure service - three stages. First, complaints should be made to the communications enterprises. Second, if, after three to seven days, no feedback has been received, complaints can be made to the regional offices of NCC – again, three to seven days should be allowed for feedback. Finally, if the problem still has not been solved, you complaints can be made directly to NCC’s members. Such an arrangement is to help people receive good-quality communications services.
(7) Through formulation of Accounting Procedures Manual and regulation of Total Service Long-Run Incremental Cost, universal service sharers can have more reasonable tasks while resources can be utilized more efficiently.
(8) The success of Broadband for Villages can become a model for the future and for basic construction of broadband network in outlying islands and tribes (neighborhoods). It is suggested to continue help with minorities’ rights and accelerate universal access to the data communication service.
(9) Appointed proprietors should initiate measures that suit local circumstances and use wire optical fiber or wireless internet technology to overcome all kinds of obstacles and continually complete construction. While pursuing business profits, universal service sharers should also concern themselves with the Telecommunications Universal Services Fund and help its system operate properly. Policies related to minorities’ benefits should be implemented and the Government should give good supervision over the construction process. Businesses should remain committed to the society in which they operate and contribute appropriately. Under the efforts of the Government and private telecommunications sector, Taiwan’s industrial development in tribes of remote areas will be effective. The visions of Broadband for Villages, Broadband for Tribes, and no digital divide between rural and urban areas can certainly be achieved.
(10) Organized “Counseling Plan for Advancing Minority Groups in Remote Areas to Use Broadband Communications Service” in 2007. In 2007, 46 remote villages and neighborhoods were designated for build-up of broadband communications and also brought into the scope of the implementation area for the training plan. Proceeding with an in-depth plan by aiming at broadband communications service in remote areas, the NCC hopes that local inhabitants can promote features of their own tribal culture, tourist resources, agricultural products or handicrafts to others and obtain knowledge concerning education, agriculture, health and environmental conservation. It is believed that such development of the e-community can be achieved as long as inhabitants undertake learning in computer training courses and make good use of the internet. Starting from the end of September, 2007, the training plan has arranged courses in 11 counties and cities and finished on December 16th of the same year. There were 27 classes (the program of each class lasted 12 hours; courses were completed within two days.). There were 255 trainees in total.
(11) The 37th conference of the APEC Telecommunication and Information Working Group took place in Taiwan in March 2008. At this conference, the fruitful results from the advanced project for Broadband for Villages were set out. Through this channel, Taiwan’s efforts and subsequent achievements could be publicized.
(12) Because of the success which this project brought, Taiwan can share its
experience and results with other countries which would like its help.