Taiwan: First Off The Blocks With Dual Networks?

By | January 28, 2005

Taiwan has launched what it’s calling the “world’s first dual-network application service”, according to today’s Taipei Times (which charmingly, and perhaps accurately, calls it a Duel Network in its headline).

The network combines wireless local area networks (WLANs) and General Packet Radio Service (GPRS). In a demo set up in Taipei’s Nankang Science Park, workers have access to “various functions, including access to personal e-mails and instant messages or connection to any printer in the park through wireless transmission. Other services allow parents to view their children in the park’s daycare center through a surveillance system.” From what I can understand in the piece, the government plans to spend NT$7 billion to build the same thing across the whole country over seven years. Taiwan Cellular, the paper says, will roll out dual-network service packages after the Lunar New Year (early next month).

It’s not clear, and I’m not clear, about how exactly this works, and what it’s for. The point of dual-network devices makes sense — you can use them for VoIP on WLAN hotspots, and switch to cellular in cellular-only areas, but why have both technologies in the same place? I guess, as it implies above, the idea is to offer more options and services atop the existing structure. So you might prefer to have one data connection via GPRS, but print locally via Wi-Fi. Or is there more to it that I’m missing?

One thought on “Taiwan: First Off The Blocks With Dual Networks?

  1. Tim Lauer

    Good questions…

    Why have both technologies (WLAN and GPRS) in the same place?
    Taiwan’s dual net initiative is really targetted at integrating services based on 3G and WLAN.
    As you know, Taiwan builds (OEM/ODMs) over 80% of the worlds WLAN APs, gateways, etc. 3G base stations are much more expensive and it can be shown, especially for indoor coverage for data services that WiFi/WLAN APs are more cost effective and provide more bandwidth than 3G base stations. Operators deploying 3G networks will save money and provide better services if they can offer a combined 3G-WLAN service.

    Since 2001, I’ve been working (especially here in Taiwan) with mobile operators, hand set vendors and other key players in Asia on enabling “Dual Network” wireless services. There is a very interesting story brewing given that WLAN APs reduce the number of 3G base stations needed. On another front Taiwan ODMs have taken a leadership role in the development of new Smart Phones that feature dual network (WLAN/Celluar)support.

    Hope this helps, drop me an email if you want to chat.

    Tim Lauer
    Managing Director,
    APAC Ventures, LLC

    Lots of challenges in providing true seemless data and voice services over a dual network.


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