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New Year Special Features '99

  • Taiwan's ISPs Prepare for Challenging Year
  • January 5, 1999 (TAIPEI) -- Taiwan's expanding number of Internet service providers (ISPs) can expect 1999 to be a year of both challenges and opportunities.
    Partly due to incentives provided by the National Information Infrastructure project, the number of Internet users in Taiwan surpassed 2.7 million as of the end of November 1998. Of those, 1.8 million were corporate and individual users, while 850,000 were users of educational or academic networks.

    The government plans to set up a computer lab in every elementary and secondary school, which will further stimulate demand for Internet services.

    The number of Internet users is growing by 80,000 to 100,000 a month, and Taiwan's total number will reach 3.5 million by the end of 1999.

    Taiwan's market has attracted more than 100 ISPs, and the companies vary greatly in size.

    Chunghwa Telecom Co., Ltd. (HiNet), United Telecom (SeedNet), Hitron Technology Inc. (Nt.net), Reach and Range Corp. (G-C Net), Seeder Computer (Seeder Net), Acer Inc. (pagic.net and AcerNet), and InfoServe Technology (IS Net) are the largest ISPs in Taiwan, according to a report released by the III. Those ISPs together hold more than 90 percent of the local market. Only 30 percent of the ISPs in Taiwan are expected to generate revenues surpassing NT$100 million in 1998.

    Nevertheless, an industry analyst said that the intense competition is likely to encourage mergers and acquisitions, and thus result in an oligarchy. Also, he pointed out that 1999 will be especially tough for smaller companies.

    The growing popularity of non-dial-up linkage to the Internet -- including ASDL, interactive TV, and satellite communications -- is encouraging companies such as Giga Media (GigaNet) and ERA Entertainment (Era.net) to set up networks.

    Those companies hope to launch interactive TV services that allow viewers to obtain Internet access via their systems.

    And AT&T; Corp. is exploring the possibility of entering the market via local partners, according to industry sources.

    Both GigaNet and Era.net plan to launch services in July or August 1999.

    (Commercial Times, Taiwan)

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    Updated: Mon Jan 4 15:46:58 1999 PDT