Friday, July 10, 2020
Martin Hennecke

HKT urges faster spectrum release
Major cities on the mainland are jumping ahead of Hong Kong in the race to develop telecommunications infrastructures, a phenomenon which might turn the SAR into a "dumb city" not a "smart one," HKT (6823) group director Alexander Anthony Arena said yesterday.

He said the local telecom industry is "frustrated" with the government practice of auctioning or selling off spectrums bit by bit, with the government the largest beneficiary of this scheme.

"Right now they are going for the money," he said. "We want to continue investing [in infrastructures] but we don't want to pay for the license fee."

On Monday, HKT unveiled various recommendations, including the consolidation of the release of the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz, 3.5 GHz and 26-28 GHz spectrums. It also recommended charging operators based on a fixed percentage.

HKT announced three other recommendations yesterday. It sought the government's assistance in relocating current satellite stations as the size of the 3.5 GHz restriction area makes 5G services unavailable for about one million Hongkongers.

For instance, if a satellite station in Tai Po can be relocated to Stanley where another satellite station is set up, residents in Tai Po and surrounding areas, including Shatin, can enjoy 5G services. Under current arrangements, even the New Town Plaza commercial complex in Shatin which attracts a large number of mainland shoppers will not be covered by 5G services.

Henry Wong, HKT's head of strategic wireless technology and core networks, said it takes at least three years for relocation to be completed, which means areas served by relocation can enjoy 5G services only by 2020.

Chaucer Leung, deputy manager at the Office of the Communications Authority, however, said current development of 5G services in Hong Kong is in line with that in developed countries. He added that 5G services will be available in the SAR by April next year.

Leung said that a public consultation will be launched next month on frequency allocation and arrangements for spectrum assignments, and added that auctions are a fair and transparent means of assigning spectrums.

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