Hong Kong-based business-focused telco Wharf T&T has awarded Chinese networking equipment supplier Huawei Technologies a contract to roll out GPON fibre-to-the-office (FTTO) last-mile broadband infrastructure. No financial details have been announced, but according to a report on Chinese-language site hexun.com, Huawei won the tender ahead of several overseas peers. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database says that Wharf T&T is Hong Kong’s second largest provider of fixed telephony access lines, with 621,000 in service at end-2008, including 441,000 business lines, compared to former monopoly PCCW (HKT) with 2.6 million lines (including 1.2 million used by businesses).
The direct fibre contract awarded to Huawei forms part of Wharf’s new HKD1 billion (USD130 million) investment plan, dubbed ‘+EN’ (standing for ‘+ Enterprise Network’), which it unveiled on 19 January 2010. According to the company’s website, +EN will see it expand its high speed last mile network for office users and develop integrated packages under the banner ‘IT-as-a-Service’ (ITaaS) for business customers. Wharf says that the latest statistics (December 2009) from Hong Kong’s Census & Statistics Department show that only 60% of business establishments have PCs/internet connections whilst only 20% have their own web pages. The telco also quotes a December 2009 report from Hong Kong’s Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) showing that the five alternative fixed local access network operators – Wharf, City Telecom (HKBN), Hutchison Global Communications, New World Telecom and i-Cable (Wharf’s consumer-focused sister) – together have only achieved a slightly below 60% coverage of all commercial buildings in the territory. The +EN project will involve deploying fibre directly to offices territory-wide, enabling local connections to be upgraded to a potential 10Gbps. In addition, +EN will offer around ten core ITaaS services/applications on a monthly charge basis, covering a wide variety of business processes. Wharf ultimately aims to see FTTO rolled out to around 95% of business customers in Hong Kong.