Taiwan's 5G sector is gaining a head of steam. Just five months after launch, operators have crossed the 1 million customer mark and are ramping up investment and collaboration with local industry.
Chunghwa Telecom, the biggest operator, says it has clocked up more than 300,000 5G subscribers since its debut on June 30.
The other two big players, Far EasTone and Taiwan Mobile, have also passed the 300,000 mark, United Daily News reported.
Of the two smaller operators, Taiwan Star has reached 100,000, while Asia-Pacific Telecom (APT), which launched in October, hasn't disclosed its numbers.
Both Chunghwa and FarEasTone are aiming to achieve 1 million subs by the second half of 2021.
FarEasTone President Chee Jing said the operator had beaten its targets in both network rollout and take-up. It has achieved 55% coverage and is targeting 90% coverage next year.
Taiwan Mobile president Jamie Lin also says take-up has exceeded expectations. It expects 5G will account for 15-20% of its total subscribers by the end of 2021.
Chunghwa expects more than 50% of 4G users will be converted to 5G within three years.
The island's operators have deployed around 10,000 5G basestations so far, with Chunghwa accounting for 4,200 and FarEasTone around 4,000.
Chunghwa and Taiwan Mobile are boosting their investments next year.
Chunghwa chairman Chi-Mau Sheih said the telco will invest more than NT$10 billion ($355 million) on mobile infrastructure including 5G in 2021.
Taiwan Mobile has already decided on a 75% hike in 5G spending to around NT$14 billion ($486.8 million). Chunghwa has also sketched out its growing 5G collaboration with Taiwan's chip and hardware firms, which see opportunities in 5G mmWave equipment.
The telco has set up a 5G Open Lab with network gear from both Ericsson and Nokia, where local players such as chip firm MediaTek, notebook supplier Acer, handset-maker HTC and ODMs Inventec and Wistron Neweb can develop and test their new kit.
Ivan Lin, president of Chunghwa Telecom Research Institute, said Chunghwa believed the mmWave band provided a better development environment for high-throughput, low-latency applications such as AR/VR live video, HD video and smart surveillance.
The lab takes advatnage of Chunghwa Telecom's continuous bandwidth of 600MHz in the 28GHz mmwave band.
Additionally, Chunghwa is running smart factory field trials for mmWave enterprise networks and is supporting AI and unmanned vehicle applications and AR-based remote collaboration.
— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading