PCCW wins uncontested CDMA licence; China Unicom still interested in HK

16 Oct 2007

Hong Kong’s government has announced that an auction of a 15-year licence for 850MHz CDMA2000 mobile phone services has been won by the territory’s incumbent telco PCCW-HKT, which was the only applicant. Regulatory executive body OFTA said in a statement: ‘Since PCCW-HKT is the only applicant and has met the pre-qualification requirements, it is the Provisional Successful Bidder under the terms and conditions of the auction. PCCW-HKT is required to pay to the government the spectrum utilisation fee of HKD76 million (USD9.8 million) and provide to the Telecommunications Authority (TA) a performance bond of HKD150 million by 27 November 2007 before it will be declared as the Successful Bidder…The CDMA2000 licensee will be permitted to provide services after 20 November 2008. The TA will issue the appropriate licence or permit so that the licensee may construct the new network during the intervening period.’ The statement continues: ‘With the grant of the new CDMA2000 licence, visitors to and the residents in Hong Kong will be able to enjoy advanced CDMA mobile services, including CDMA roaming services. This will strengthen Hong Kong’s strategic position as a world city and the gateway between mainland China and the world.’ PCCW’s mobile division already provides GSM and W-CDMA services.

China Unicom, which had indicated that it might bid for the 2G/3G CDMA licence, is reported to be looking to partner a local operator to enter the Hong Kong market, but has denied that it is looking to take over fixed line and broadband provider City Telecom. China Unicom won a CDMA2000 concession in another Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR), Macau, in October 2006. The mainland operator also holds an MVNO licence in Hong Kong through its China Unicom International subsidiary, which it uses primarily as an aid to its international roaming services. Cellco Hutchison (3) is Hong Kong’s only existing provider of CDMA services, over a 2G IS-95B network, launched in 1995, that will be shut down by 19 November 2008 to make way for CDMA2000 services, under orders from the regulator. Rival cellco CSL New World Mobility must also surrender its 800MHz/850MHz frequencies, used for its 2G TDMA network, in operation since 1992.