According to a research report titled “The 5G Economy” released by the research institution IHS Markit, Taiwan is projected to generate a total output value of USD 134 billion and 510,000 new employment opportunities through 5G products and services on the foundation of the current industry structure and policy environment in 2035. In the face of the challenges and opportunities generated by innovative application services in the 5G era, numerous telecommunication operators are vigorously deploying relevant capacities. For instance, Chunghwa Telecom formed the Taiwan 5G Alliance with the 5G Technology Program Office, Department of Industrial Technology (DoIT), MOEA, the Industrial Technology Research Institute, and the Institute for Information Industry in 2018. The goal lies in the establishment of an end-to-end 5G production chain and achievement of pre-commercial maturity in 2020. Commercial networks with relevant service contents will be launched in urban spheres including Xinyi Special District, Taipei International Convention Center, and Taipei Music Center. In addition, Asia Pacific Telecom Co. received permission from NCC to set up the first experimental 5G network in Taiwan in 2018. The company has initiated planning for an experimental network in Neihu, Tucheng, and the National Chiao Tung University campus area in cooperation with Foxconn and Chiao Tung University. The goal lies in the joint development of 8K+5G ecosystem applications. Taiwan Mobile, on the other hand, enlisted close to 100 top-notch teams from the fields of industry, government, and academia for its smart-application 5G Alliance which is the largest of its kind in Taiwan in 2019. This alliance aims to provide a larger number of innovative and diversified vertical application services. In view record-breaking bidding prices for 5G frequency spectrum licenses, commercial operations are expected to be initiated in the second half of 2020. Business opportunities generated by relevant application services will be the main driving force for industrial development in the next ten years.
In 2019, the Executive Yuan approved the Taiwan’s 5G Action Plan for 2019-2022 to accelerate progress in the following five key areas: Proof of 5G vertical application fields, creation of an environment conducive to the development innovative 5G applications, perfection of core 5G technology and information security capabilities, planned release of 5G frequency spectrums for the common good, and legal amendments to create an environment favorable to the development of 5G. This four-year program has a total budget of NT$ 20.466 billion and an estimated annual output value of NT$ 50 billion. Transformation of Taiwan into an environment suited for the development of 5G innovative applications.
Taipei City features clusters of key ICT technology businesses in the Neihu and Nangang areas and functions as a major center of the 5G hard- and software supply chain in Taiwan. The Taipei City Government actively promoted numerous industry exchange programs to transform Taipei into the most representative 5G Smart City in the world. These efforts have resulted in more than 10 large-scale, cross-industry cooperation projects. In July 2018, a MOU on “5G and Smart City Application Services” was signed with Chunghwa Telecom. The scope of cooperation encompasses Proof of Concept (PoC) projects in mobile network integration and application for smart streetlight, Smart City innovative apps experiments and trials, and 5G innovative app demos and trials. Taipei City Government has permitted the use of street lights and signal posts as network linkage nodes with installed 5G and NB-IoT and various types of smart sensors. Urban environments are monitored through value-added application services. This includes the collection of data on parking and the flow of people and vehicles for traffic analysis, digital signage for the display of tourism marketing information, and installation of airboxes for the detection of air quality. In 2019, over 12,000 smart street lights were installed in the core areas of Neihu Technology Park, Nangang Software Park, Xinyi Special District, and Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. These lights are expected to provide full 5G coverage for five large administrative districts (Neihu, Zhongshan, Songshan, Nangang, and Xinyi) in 2020. This smartification initiative will be extended to 160,000 street lights all over the city in 2021. The goal lies in the perfection of the smart city public service system through data analysis relying on smart street lights and value-added services supported by 5G technologies.
Neihu Smart Park 5G Test Project
Taipei City Government cooperates with Far EasTone and the Cloud Computing & IoT Association in Taiwan under guidance of NCC to accelerate the development of innovative applications by the 5G and IoT industry. In October 2018, the first open 5G test field in Taiwan named Taipei IoT Innovation Lab on the 4th floor of Neihu Sports Center. 100 teams are invited to experience this three-month 5G environment experiment free of charge. The lab provides Ericsson base stations, 5G SIM cards, routers, fixed wireless access (FWA), and access network testing assistance. The onsite 5G Indoor System Model sustains simultaneous connections for 50-60 people through adoption of a 4x4 MIMO active decentralized antenna system supporting a 5G frequency band (3-6GHz). This greatly decreases the cost of indoor network coverage. In addition, businesses participating in this experiment receive assistance in matching with Far EasTone IoT Industrial Ecosphere Development Platform.
In contrast to existing lab equipment and commercial operating environments of businesses that tend to be affected by signal interferences, this open 5G test field offers more complete equipment and facilities, approximating real-world application environments. By the end of 2019, around 72 businesses including upstream module and chip providers, midstream network and communication equipment suppliers, and downstream notebook manufacturers as well as start-ups, schools, academic institutions, and media firms applied for testing. Due to the high 5G installation costs, testing instruments are expensive and testing operations are comparatively complicated. Interoperability testing and collaboration between operators, handheld terminal providers, and tool & instrument manufacturers requires constant trial and error and repeated testing. The 5G test field, therefore, allows testing and adjustments based on the needs of different businesses, which is conducive to enhanced integration between chips and equipment and acceleration of the follow-up development of innovative applications for commercial operations.
The government currently promotes the establishment of 5G Vertical Application Fields through public-private partnerships and encourage proofs of concept (PoC) and proofs of business (PoB) and thereby expedite formation of a 5G vertical application ecosystem and creation of benchmarking examples for innovative 5G applications (e.g., cultural technology, smart healthcare, Civil IoT) to give further impetus to continued upward progress in 5G related industries. On the other hand, it is expected that the fusion of 5G with emerging technologies such as IoT, AI, and Big Data will drive the development of integrated cross-industry ecosystems and more diversified innovative applications and business models. Taipei City Government will continue to monitor and provide assistance for the development of the 5G industry and vertical applications by businesses with the ultimate goal of accelerating marketability of relevant applications.
Creation of the largest 5G entertainment and multimedia exhibition experience field in Taiwan
During New Year’s Eve events all over Taiwan in 2020, the hosts on stage shouted the countdown “5, 4, 3, 2, 1…” together with the audience. The crowds were instantly captivated by the magnificent fireworks displays or eye-catching light show. New year wishes were sent all over the world via smartphone messages as a perfect opening for the brand-new year. On New Year’s Eve, Taipei City Government joined hands with exclusive sponsor and telecommunication giant Far EasTone in creating the largest outdoor 5G test field in Taiwan, which marks the prelude to commercial operations in 2020.
According to released statistics, the amount of downloaded data at the annual New Year’s Countdown events is 1.2~1.8 times the normal amount. Xinyi district, which is the most crowded area in Taipei City, recorded 2.8 times and over 50 times the normal amount for downloads and uploads, respectively. Far EasTone has deployed over 170 mobile base stations nationwide. The Company has also added a 4G base station on a street light in front of Taipei City Hall Plaza to provide smooth connections for multimedia live streaming, uploads of multimedia files and images, social media check-ins, and video calls by users at the plaza. The goal is to provide stable and high-quality mobile Internet signals for the instant sending of New Year’s wishes to fully satisfy the demands of all Far EasTone users. In addition, the Company has installed a 5G base station on top of the Taipei City Hall Building for the “three-highlight” show with exciting song and dance performances, which mark the climax of the event. For this grand undertaking, Far EasTone cooperated with B’in Live, which has served as the organizer for over 1000 concerts. Taiwanese pop star Nick Chou and close to 100 dancers from Juang Jing Vocational High School were invited for a simultaneous performance on the main event stage, the rooftop helicopter pad, and the Mayor’s Office. Video images of the performances were projected on the large screen of the main stage in a real-time manner. This setup not only eliminated lip-sync errors which were a common occurrence in past events but also treated the audience to high-speed, low-delay, and high-quality image transmissions, setting a milestone by successfully demonstrating for the first time the use of 5G technology for audio-visual performances in a large-scale outdoor venue.
Taipei Music Center
Over many years, Taiwanese popular music serves as a trendsetter in the field of Mandopop. Its unique brand image and leadership position may be attributed to its creative freedom and liberal attitude. Following the rapid development of digital technology, live stage performances with infectious charm and energy have turned into a major trend. However, facilities and spaces supported by relevant up- and downstream industries are lacking (e.g., number of venues, spatial planning, professional performance venues). It is therefore evident that the music industry is in dire need of performance venues that can accommodate large crowds and assistance for up- and downstream industry chains in resource integration. In view of this, the Ministry of Culture accelerates upgrades in the audiovisual media industry in response to international competition and digital trends. The ministry invested over NT$ 13 billion in the construction of two popular music centers in northern and southern Taiwan. The ministry aims to provide performers and creators with high-end performance stages and venues which are operated by the governments of Taipei and Kaohsiung City as non-departmental public bodies.
The construction costs of Taipei Music Center, which is situated in the Nangang District of Taipei City and took 15 years to complete after plan approval, amounted to NT$ 6.08 billion. The center which is located between Nangang and Kunyang Station on the blue line (adjacent to Nangang Station, which is served by Taiwan High Speed Rail, Taiwan Railways Administration, and Taipei Metro) was constructed and is operated by Taipei City Government. It is connected to Nangang Trade Park, Nangang Software Park, Academia Sinica, Neihu Technology Park, Xinyi Special District, and Eastern District. This convenient traffic network is highly conducive to the acquisition of large-scale development projects and promotion of urban commercial activities.
Taipei Music Center can make up for the lack of large-scale performance venues in Taiwan. The whole park is divided into a northern and southern area with a total of three large venues. The indoor Performance Hall in the northern area is the only venue in Taiwan that was exclusively designed for popular music performances. It can accommodate around 6,000 spectators. The Popular Music Culture Center in the southern area, on the other hand, is the only popular music-themed exhibition center in Taiwan. The themed display areas provide an overview of the history and development of popular music in Taiwan, presenting the multi-faceted nature of popular music culture in Taiwan. The Industry Zone which aims to cultivate young musical talent features well-planned, multifunctional spaces including the Live House, Popular Music Industry Community, and Incubation Space. Available music performance spaces include four venues for small-scale performances that can accommodate up to 200, 800, and 1600 spectators, respectively, and a music-themed restaurant for up to 200 diners. Other facilities include music classrooms, band practice rooms, offices, recording studios, and music-themed restaurants. The outdoor square serves as a leisure and recreational space for the public or as a venue for the organization of various activities including creative markets, music feasts, and small-scale street artist performances. The Performance Hall will assume operations in the 2nd quarter of 2020, while the Culture Center and the Industry Zone will be successively inaugurated in 2021. In view of the fact that the music center is a composite park area with popular culture and lifestyle functions, it is expected to attract creative talent and brands from all over the world and facilitate a convergence of trends. It will demonstrate the abundant creative energy of popular music culture in Taiwan and turn into a new landmark for Mandopop in Asia.
Against the backdrop of imminent commercial application of 5G technology, entertainment industry experiences draw the most attention besides general communication transmission services. The event titled “Premiere of the Music Center”, held in April 2018, served as a test of the functionality of the Performance Hall. Numerous performance troupes, musicians, and volunteers participated in this test of the venue space, hardware facilities, shock resistance, sound insulation effects, and entry/exit routes for spectators. It should be noted that this test event also ushered in an audiovisual revolution triggered by 5G technology. The Department of Cultural Affairs, Taipei City Government, the Taipei Music Center, and the 5G CHT Pilot Team cooperated in the design of innovative application services in accordance with the venue characteristics by taking advantage of 5G attributes including large bandwidth and low delay. Application items displayed on site included multi-view, high-resolution live streams which gave the audience a chance to be their own directors by selecting their desired viewing angle. VR 360 technology allowed the viewing of 8K 360-degree live streams by wearing a VR headset with a 360-degree field of vision, generating a fully immersive experience for all participants. The event successfully created a revolutionary audiovisual experience for live popular music performances.
2020 marks the debut of 5G technology in Taiwan. The first wave of bidding for 5G frequency spectrum licenses, which consisted of quantity and position bidding (first and second stage, respectively) and 5G spectrum operations has been completed. Telecommunication providers are expected to start offering services in the second half of 2020. The goal is to accelerate industry developments to make 5G services available for consumers at the earliest date possible. Taipei City Government has successively adopted numerous open field test programs to accelerate the deployment and growth of 5G and IoT in the city. Taipei Music Center is also projected to assume operations in June 2020. In the future, the government will provide more opportunities for cooperation in field experiments with the ultimate goal of forming international linkages for the expansion of business opportunities in the field of 5G and putting Taipei in the vanguard of 5G Smart Cities in Asia.