The Koo's Group of Taiwan is to invest NT$20 billion (about HK$5 billion) upgrading the group's cable television networks, according to company director Chester Koo. The sum will be used to upgrade the existing cable network infrastructure of Koo's Cable, which has about 1.5 million subscribers in Taiwan. By the end of this year, most of Koo's Cable's networks in Taiwan would have broadband connectivity ability and two-way transmission capability, Mr Koo said. Mr Koo said Koo's Cable would have a better competitive advantage to compete with the three new telecom network operators after the government fully deregulated its telecommunication industry by the middle of next year, as its cable TV business could continue to generate cash flow to finance its upgrade plan, while its competitors were still under construction. 'You have to put lots of money just for the initial investment on the fixed-line networks,' he said. The new telecom operators - Eastern TV, Pacific Network and New Century - would each have to invest about NT$100 billion to build up the networks, he said. Mr Koo said that, of the NT$20 billion upgrade expenses, NT$15 billion would be financed by Koo's Cable's operation revenue, while the rest would be injected by the Koo's Group. Koo's Group had planned to join New Century to invest in fixed-line networks, but dropped the plan after re-assessing the industry, said Mr Koo. The Koo's Group now had a passive investment approach in fixed-line networks by investing NT$1.2 billion to take a 3 per cent stake in New Century. Koo's Cable would explore future business co-operation with Pacific Century CyberWorks' satellite-based broadband Internet services arm, Pacific Convergence Corp, said Mr Koo. 'We are very open, anything could be possible,' he said. Koo's Group's cable-based Internet and multi-media business unit, GigaMedia, has formed a joint venture with CyberWorks and Taiwan-based TV and movie content provider ERA Communication to develop financial news and entertainment programmes. 'This joint venture is just the first step of our business alliance. We will continue to look for other business opportunities,' said Mr Koo. The Koo's Group is controlled by the family of Koo Chen-fu, chairman of Taipei-based Straits Exchange Foundation. Mr Koo said the Koo's Group, which has business covering cable TV, mobile-phone operations and Internet services, would continue to explore other business opportunities with CyberWorks.The group would also study the business alliance opportunities with Cable & Wireless HKT if CyberWorks merges with HKT. Meanwhile, TG Telecom, the cellular-phone unit of the Koo's Group, is in talks with Global Crossing for a business alliance, according to Mr Koo, who is a director at TG Telecom. No details were disclosed. The United States-based sea-cable operator has formed a 50-50 joint venture with Hutchison Whampoa worth US$1.2 billion.