Taiwan Mobile and Taiwan Star Telecom (T Star) agreed to merge their operations, creating the country’s largest operator with 9.8 million subscribers and 100MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum.

In a statement, Taiwan Mobile, with 7.3 million subs at end 2021, noted it plans to issue 282 million new shares for the stock-for-stock merger. The operators’ boards approved the deal 30 December.

T Star ended December with 2.5 million subs, data from GSMA Intelligence showed. Current market leader Chunghwa Telecom closed the year with 9.7 million users, while Far EasTone had about 7 million.

Taiwan Mobile chairman Daniel Tsai explained the tie-up aims to integrate the operators’ respective 5G spectrum holdings, make deployment of mobile infrastructure more efficient and move towards a low-carbon, sustainable future.

“This merger will deliver more than the sum of its parts and be good for consumers,” Tsai added.

The merged company will have 11,000 5G base stations, giving it 90 per cent population coverage. T Star has spectrum in the 900MHz (40MHz), 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz bands, while Taiwan Mobile’s holdings include airwaves in the 700MHz, 1.8GHz, 2.1GHz, 3.5GHz and 28GHz bands.

Once the deal is completed, a 3G network and thousands of redundant 4G base stations will be shut down, which together with Taiwan Mobile’s energy-saving systems will save a claimed 40 million kilowatt-hours in power consumption annually. After T Star’s 5G network is closed, annual power savings will reach 100 million to 200 million kWh.

The agreement requires approved by the National Communications Commission and the Fair Trade Commission.