Expanding telecommunications infrastructure helps shrink urban-rural gap

Following a presentation by the National Communications Commission (NCC) on universal access and broadband infrastructure

Following a presentation by the National Communications Commission (NCC) on universal access and broadband infrastructure, Premier Lai Ching-te on Thursday said that network expansion and the capabilities of digital applications are key at this stage to sharpening Taiwan’s competitive edge.

The premier instructed the NCC to work with the Ministry of Education, Council of Indigenous Peoples, and Ministry of Health and Welfare, as well as local governments, as it continues building out the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure to cover remote areas. Such work will shrink the digital gap between urban and rural areas, advance the innovative development of the digital economy, and raise the quality of life in remote areas and throughout Taiwan.

Not only has communication via the internet come to be increasingly discussed as a human right by the United Nations and the international community, said Premier Lai, but telecommunications technology and smart applications have already become new drivers of national development. The NCC has kept abreast of international trends, and its long-term efforts to promote universal access to telecommunications have already produced concrete results in raising broadband coverage rates in remote areas. In addition, promotion of the Digital Nation and Innovative Development Program (DIGI+) over the past two years, together with digital applications and infrastructure under the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, will help hasten Taiwan’s rise as a smart-tech nation.

The NCC indicated that the nation’s universal access services (which include bringing telephone service, public telephones, and data transmission to areas where such services would not be commercially viable, and subsidies for public libraries and elementary and middle schools in remote areas) provides broadband access to even the farthest-flung communities, covering 85 rural townships, 755 villages and all tribal communities. Beginning in 2017 speeds for residential connections in remote areas were raised to over 12 megabits per second, with a coverage rate of 96.7 percent. Coverage rates for digital cable television have also been rising, from 45.64 percent in 2013 to 99.46 percent in 2017. The NCC estimated that by the end of 2018 digital cable television will be available universally throughout Taiwan.

In cooperation with other ministries and agencies, the NCC has taken universal access services as a foundation for promoting Taiwan’s transformation into a digital nation with an innovation economy. Projects include i-Tribe (free Wi-Fi for indigenous communities), faster broadband connections for mobile health care centers, public community information and communications stations at public libraries, and expanded services at digital opportunity centers. Such efforts contribute significantly to minimizing urban-rural disparities and making the right to digital participation a reality for all.

Date: 2018-07-12
Source: Department of Information Services, Executive Yuan