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China Telecom criticises PCCW's CDMA network; hints at HK spectrum bid

8 Apr 2010

China Telecom has criticised the service quality of the CDMA2000 mobile network run by PCCW in Hong Kong, calling the standard of CDMA roaming in the Special Administrative Region (SAR)‘well short of GSM/W-CDMA networks.’ As reported by TelecomAsia, the Chinese giant made its comments in a submission to Hong Kong telecoms regulator OFTA, in response to the latter’s plans to auction new wireless spectrum. China Telecom, the Chinese mainland’s sole CDMA network operator, said that Hong Kong was the most important roaming destination for its subscribers, but ‘the CDMA roaming situation at present cannot satisfy the needs of roaming users … In recent years … the level of CDMA development in Hong Kong has declined, network coverage has shrunk, network quality has declined, and the perceptions of roaming users has been greatly affected.’ The Chinese telco continued that it hoped that the auction would attract new entrants into Hong Kong to build and operate an 850MHz CDMA network, and also called on OFTA to cut the spectrum utilisation fee. The regulator plans to sell off spectrum in the 850MHz, 900MHZ and 2100MHz bands, and has said enough frequencies are available to support a new public network across the territory, with China Telecom mooted as one of the potential candidates. PCCW, which also operates a W-CDMA 3G mobile network, launched CDMA2000 services almost exclusively to support roaming customers in November 2008. It provides coverage in the ‘golden bowl’ area of lower Kowloon and northern Hong Kong Island. A spokesperson said the coverage complied with its licence requirements. According to previous reports, PCCW offered to sell the network to China Telecom but was turned down on the basis of price.

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