Thanks, but I think you should also include more general information and some stuff on 3G internet service plans, since those also come up in the living in TW forum and here.
Some of the general stuff:Band Frequencies
- All carriers in Taiwan use both GSM 900MHz and 1800MHz as 2G bands and only UMTS (aka 3G) 2100MHz as their 3G band.
- Vibo Telecom is a 3G only carrier so to get service with them you need a 3G phone with the proper frequency
- If you're from the Americas and want to use your old device, make sure you check that (a) the phone has the proper 2G and 3G frequencies [3G in the US is implemented over existing 850/1900MHz 2G frequencies and not 2100MHz] and (b) the phone does not have a carrier subsidy lock. If you are not sure about (b), check with your current carrier.
- Aside from GSM, there are CDMA2000 (A+, or Asia Pacific Telecom) and PHS services available. However, you will not be able to use your existing Verizon/Sprint/Telus etc. etc CDMA phone with A+ because CDMA phones in Taiwan use RUIM cards and none of the North American carriers do. There are a few shops that supposedly
can help you activate a non-RUIM CDMA device ("shao ji") if you have your device ESN, MDN and a release key, but from what I gather it is very expensive (sometimes costing as much as a new handset) and the operations are often shut down fairly quickly because A+ does not typically allow non-A+ devices to be activated on their network. Do not attempt this unless you have an ultra-high end CDMA phone and are willing to take a risk bricking it (firmware flashes are required for this sort of mod) and never being able to reactivate elsewhere again.Calling Rates
- Aside from few selected plans, most carriers bill you by the second and by the type of calls you make. Rates are broken down into either in-network, out-of-network, or landline calls, and each type of calls may be broken down into nominal rates or discounted rates (late evenings or special offers), depending on your carrier. SMS and video calls are billed similarly. Out-of-network or landline calls can sometimes cost twice as much as in-network calls, so if most of your social circle uses Zhonghua, go with Zhonghua as well.
- Vibo and Asia Pacific have a few plans that offer unlimited and free in-network calling.
- Zhonghua Telecom (CHT) has the highest number of subscribers, followed by Taiwan Mobile (Taiwan Dageda, myfone), Farestone (FET), then Vibo.
- If you have an ARC with 3-year validity and happen to be working in a relatively large company or be enrolled in a local university as a student, most carriers offer some form of student/corporate discount. CHT, for instance, has discount calling plans that give you $366 a month of calling credit if you agree to pay $183/month for 2 years or unlimited 3G internet for $499/month with a free USB 3G modem on a 3-year committment. Taiwan Mobile has a "pay $50, talk for $200" enterprise plan that requires you to be an employee in one of the large local Enterprises (like TSMC, UMC, Foxconn etc). Check with your HR department first.More on the iPhone
- CHT, Taiwan Mobile and FET all have iPhones available for purchase.
- If you have your mind set on an iPhone and have yet to decide on a carrier, CHT offers the best iPhone bundle deal out of the three carriers, as their special plan gives you free additional airtime, 100-200 free text messages, some amount of MMS allowance, and a 20% bonus on the service deposit you are all required to give when you sign up for service (i.e., you prepay $10,000, CHT counts that as $12,000).
- However, if most of your social circle uses FET or Taiwan Mobile, go with those other two instead.3G Internet
- Every carrier has unlimited 3G internet plans available. They all cost roughly $700-$850 a month, not counting discounts or benefits you may get with other special offers
- Those internet plans may either be standalone data-only plans with pay-per-use voice rates (intended for laptops or netbooks), or add-on only plans that require you to have voice service (intended for smartphones or PDA's).Prepaid 3G internet
- Vibo offers a 1-, 3- or 5-day pass for NT$99, $249, or $399 respectively. Unlimited data transfer during the period. To get this, you would sign up for a prepaid line and whenever you want to use the internet, you would have to call their automated ordering system FROM the prepaid service line and make a purchase. With Vibo, their data service is disabled by default with their prepaid service. You will receive a text notification that it has been turned on.
Pricing information here: http://www.vibo.com.tw/CWS/Consumer_03_07,,,,.html
- Taiwan Mobile offers a similar service with pricing closely matching Vibo's. Theirs is called "catch internet by the day" and while their website does not explicitly mention it, this by-the-day internet service does work on prepaid accounts and the balance is deducted from the balance you maintain on your prepaid line. Also, you apparently CAN order the service over the internet (there is a website interface for it) or call CS to process the purchase (YMMV, as when I called them up and asked the CS rep did ask me if I wanted to get the pass right then on the phone, but since I didn't go through with it I had no way of telling if it was indeed doable on the phone.)
They'll send you a text notification and notify you that the service has been enabled and when it is set to expire, so the iPad would need to have the ability to receive text messages for you to see if the service is turned on. Be forewarned, however, that Taiwan Mobile DOES ALSO charge for internet on a per-kilobyte basis so unless you get the notification that the unlimited internet pass is turned on YOU WILL BE CHARGED BY THE KILOBYTE, and their rate works out to be $46 per megabyte of data so downloading a song off the iTunes store will cost you $200-$300 in data transfer fees alone.
Here's additional pricing information should you need it: http://www.catch.net.tw/gprs/gprs_day.jsp
- Zhonghua Telecom has a standalone pay-by-the-day service (3G行動上網日租型) where you can buy 3 days of service for $250 or 7 days of service for $450. No voice service available with this data plan. To get this multi-day pass you will actually have to go to a CHT service branch and get a SIM card which is activated at the counter and deactivated when your pass expires each time you need the service.http://www.emome.net/channel?chid=423
is the site you want to look at if you do want to go through this route.