PCCW files court case against regulator’s 3G auction plan

17 Feb 2014

Hong Kong’s PCCW (HKT) has launched a court case against the government’s plan to redistribute a third of existing licensed 3G 2100MHz mobile spectrum via auction later this year. The South China Morning Post reports that PCCW is challenging the decision finalised in November by the Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) on the grounds that it is ‘unlawful and irrational’, and its High Court application for a judicial review claims that the watchdog made an ‘elementary error’ in ruling that an auction was necessary. PCCW also contends that there was a ‘legitimate expectation’ that its 2100MHz licence would be renewed, as it will continue to make ‘efficient use’ of the spectrum. The application continued that: ‘By forcing HKT to surrender part of its 3G spectrum holdings rather than renewing HKT’s licence in full … the authority has frustrated HKT’s and PCCW’s substantive legitimate expectation of licence renewal,’ and further alleged that OFCA was unfair to all four existing UMTS licence holders when it failed to seek their views on how to conduct the study that led to the decision to auction the spectrum. PCCW also argues that the decision ignored the fact that China Mobile Hong Kong – the expected benefactor of the 2100MHz re-auction – already had access to the 3G spectrum by renting it from existing licensees.