Mobile quartet band together against fifth player

5 Feb 2013

The four Hong Kong cellcos which currently hold 2100MHz 3G spectrum – CSL, Hutchison (3), PCCW and SmarTone – have written a joint letter opposing proposals by the government and the Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) to re-auction a third of the frequency band in 2016 when the existing licence periods expire. As reported by TelecomAsia, the letter – addressed to an ICT panel within Hong Kong’s legislative council – alleges that the government’s preferred option is specifically aimed at giving the territory’s fifth operator China Mobile Hong Kong its own portion of 3G spectrum. The Hong Kong arm of the Chinese cellular giant has previously resorted to reselling 3G capacity of its local rivals, although last year it launched its own 4G network using both the 2600MHz and 2300MHz bands. The foursome’s letter gives the opinion that surrendering some of their 2100MHz spectrum would result in network congestion, slower data speeds and dropped or disrupted calls for consumers, particularly in high-traffic areas. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that OFCA published its second consultation paper on the proposed reallocation of 3G spectrum on 28 December 2012 to seek further views by a deadline of 28 February 2013. A final frequency reassignment strategy decision is due before October 2013, to give the incumbent 3G licensees at least three years’ notice before an auction mooted for October 2016.