Taiwan’s telecoms regulator yesterday approved the merger of 3G operator Vibo Telecom and 4G upstart Taiwan Star Telecom.

Taiwan Star acquired Vibo in a 1:3 stock swap in June.

The decision came after the National Communications Commission (NCC) reviewed the shareholder makeup and found indirect foreign investment of 47 per cent and less than 1 per cent direct foreign investment. Foreigners are allowed to hold up to a 49 per cent direct stake in a telecoms firm and a combined direct and indirect stake of 60 per cent.

Taiwan Star said the Vibo brand will be phased out next year and the majority of its 3G customers migrated to the new company’s 4G network. Taiwan Star acquired 10MHz of 900MHz spectrum in the 4G auction a year ago.

Taiwan Star last month introduced TWD599 ($20) unlimited 4G plans (with a two-year contract) at roughly half of the price of the other 4G operators. It claims to have 4G coverage across 85 per cent of Taiwan and will increase that to 96 per cent by the end of the year.

Vibo has 2.7 million connections (all 3G) while Taiwan Star has an estimated 150,000 4G users.

Meanwhile, Asia Pacific Telecom, the country’s fifth 4G player, announced plans to speed up the build out its 4G network and push forward the launch of services from Q1 next year to the end of this year.