The legal basis for the frequency utilization fee in our country is Article 48 Paragraph 2 of the “Telecommunications Act”, that “In order to effectively utilize the resources of radio waves, MOTC shall mandate the term of utilization of frequency, and establish a fee schedule to collect usage fees from radio frequency users.” The former telecommunication competent authority, the Directorate General of Telecommunications of MOTC, composed the frequency usage fee instructions by announcement in 1997, and the frequency usage fee began to be imposed starting from 1998. After NCC was established, the “Radio Frequency Usage Fee Charging Standard” was formulated in April 2007 according to the Charges and Fees Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. Later on, the charging formula was reviewed and modified multiple times from 2008 to 2017, and the charging standards were also regularly reviewed and modified to be in compliance with the spectrum management policy objectives of our country. In addition, the Executive Yuan has started the promotion of “Digital Nation・Innovative Economic Development Plan” ever since 2017, and the objectives are for the digital life service penetration rate of our citizens to reach 80%, broadband service to reach 2Gbps, and to guarantee the basic citizen right of 25Mbps broadband Internet access by 2025, which can drive the development of current national key industries such as IoT and medical care.
In coordination with aforementioned government policies, NCC has also actively promoted the improvement of broadband network coverage and adopted the mechanism for collecting radio frequency usage fees based on corresponding intervals in order to prompt mobile broadband service providers to increase the installation of mobile broadband networks in remote areas and to optimize the network coverage in remote areas. Considering the obvious difference in wave propagation properties and degree of commercialization of Sub-1GHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, and 2600MHz frequency band granted to mobile broadband services or even the 2300MHz and 3600MHz which could be available in the future, there should be certain segmentation of spectrum value. As a result, the factor should be adjusted according to the newly added frequency band for the mobile frequency usage fees in order to reflect the spectrum values of high and low frequency bands.
The aforementioned conditions of policy development reveal that the style of frequency usage, the difference in frequency bands being used, the difference in geographical areas of use, and the correlation with the promotion of mobile broadband service are all deeply affected by the role of frequency usage fee. The planning and collection of frequency usage fee can reflect the spectrum value and bear the spectrum management cost, and they can also serve as the promotion incentives for mobile broadband infrastructure. The calculation and collection of frequency usage fees are no longer just for the purpose of telecommunication resources management.
Under the trend of digital convergence, the emerging communication technologies will continue to evolve, thus leading to a highly competitive communication market in response to the industrial development in the era of 5G and IoT. The background environment for the formulation of charging standards of existing frequency usage fees has been changed, so there is indeed the need for total examination of the structural adjustment mechanism and supporting measures of frequency fees. And the various calculation formula and standards of frequency usage fees should be further reviewed such that the frequency charging standards can be more reasonable, the effective utilization of radio frequency can be enhanced, and the principle of user-pays can be implemented.