Part of a plan by the Taiwanese government to back mobile Internet and telecommunications on the island is to promote VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) as a way to reduce phone charges.
"The charges will be reduced to the Internet's price," said Ho Mei-Yueh, Taiwan's Minister of Economic Affairs, during a briefing with foreign media on Friday.
The island's M-Taiwan project, or Mobile Taiwan, aims to have broadband wireless Internet access in 10 cities throughout Taiwan within the next few years, using a combination of wireless LAN technology and mobile phone networks.
The Taiwan government's attitude appears far more pro-VoIP than in some other areas. A concern in some countries is that cheap phone calls made using the Internet could cause serious damage to landline phone and mobile handset service companies that have invested billions of dollars in building their networks.
Many Taiwanese have already taken to the popular VoIP software made by Skype Technologies SA that allows PC users to make free voice calls to each other over the Internet, thanks in part to a partnership with a local portal, PCHome Online Inc. Skype users can also call landlines and mobile phones around the world through the SkypeOut service, at a fraction of the cost of international phone calls.