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Taiwan Government: To Sign WiMax MOUs With Major Telecom Cos

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TAIPEI (Dow Jones) Taiwan will sign memorandums of understanding Oct. 22 with five major telecommunications companies on the licensing of WiMAX technology and the purchase of related equipment, a government official said Monday.

By cooperating with global telecom equipment makers, the government "hopes to promote Taiwan as a testing base for WiMAX equipment and also help Taiwanese equipment makers to sell abroad," said Roger Cheng, director of the Mobile Taiwan Applications Promotion Program under the Ministry of Economic of Affairs' Industrial Development Bureau.

Cheng said the companies that plan to sign the MOUs are: Sprint Nextel, a telecom operator, and telecom-equipment makers Nokia-Siemens Networks, Alcatel-Lucent, Motorola and Starent Networks Corp.

Motorola and Alcatel-Lucent officials declined to comment on Cheng's remarks. Sprint Nextel and Nokia-Siemens officials weren't immediately available for comment.

The new MOUs follow agreements the government signed in May with Nortel Networks Corp. and NEC Corp., which provide for the expansion of the two companies' WiMAX research and development operations in Taiwan.

Cheng said the global telecom equipment makers will purchase WiMAX equipment, like PC cards and handheld devices from local companies. In turn, he said the global manufacturers hope to sell core network and base stations to companies that have won the six government-auctioned WiMAX licenses, or that participate in the M-Taiwan project, a program aimed at establishing a wireless broadband Internet services infrastructure in Taiwan.

The government allocated NT$9.6 billion for WiMAX-related investment under the M-Taiwan project, which runs though 2008.

Cooperation between the different manufacturers on WiMAX technology and testing will also help reduce the cost of WiMAX consumer devices, which will further boost the technology's adoption rate, said another economics ministry official who declined to be named.

The MOUs will be signed by Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen and the five companies' representatives on the sidelines of the WiMAX Forum Taipei Showcase and Conference, Cheng said.

-By Alex Pevzner, Dow Jones Newswires; 8862-2502-2557; alex.pevzner@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

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