Taiwan plans $5b Web 2.0 investment

Chungwa Telecom upgrading net infrastructure

Taiwan’s state-controlled telco plans to invest NT$100 billion (NZ$5 billion) over the next five years to upgrade its network and further develop applications and services based on Web 2.0, a spokeswoman says.

Chunghwa Telecom will spend half the money on infrastructure, replacing miles of copper phone lines with fibre-optic cable and the latest switches, says Hsu An-ling, a company spokeswoman. The other half will go towards developing services and applications on the network designed around the idea of Web 2.0.

The plan is a bid to build the island into a internet world leader. Taiwan has already rolled out wi-fi in its largest city, Taipei, and it plans to use WiMax to turn the entire island into a wireless internet zone in the future.

Chunghwa is a key player in the wireless and wireline build-ups on the island. It’s one of two companies offering wi-fi across Taipei.

Chunghwa also plans to continue building on Web 2.0 projects already up and running, such as Xsuite, which offers users drawing applications, blogs, Vblogs (video blogs), photo diaries and other services. Around three million people have already signed up for Xsuite in Taiwan.

The idea of Web 2.0 comprises applications and services based on the more collaborative and sharing capabilities of the internet, rather than static web pages.

The company will also begin to transfer voice phone calls to internet protocol from traditional switch lines, continue to build its television and movie broadcasting service and delve into other multimedia services.

Healthcare is one area the company is trying out new services. Chunghwa has teamed up with a local non-profit organisation to place 500 kiosks in hospitals, medical offices and nursing homes as a means for people to find medical information, says Hsu.

The company is in talks with iD SoftCapital Group, the venture capital and consulting group founded by Acer founder Stan Shih, to work on the healthcare scheme.

The kiosks will be placed in facilities in two cities, Taoyuan and Chungli, as a trial before the company decides whether or not to expand the programme.

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