Hong Kong’s Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) has altered the proposed method for reassigning roughly 200MHz of spectrum in the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands prior to the expiry of existing licences in 2020 and 2021. According to a report from the South China Morning Post, after reviewing 325 responses to the first round of a public consultation held last year, the regulator says it now intends to reallocate the spectrum through a hybrid method, which will give existing licensees the right of first refusal on 40% of frequencies, with the remaining 60% of spectrum to be sold at auction. The new proposal will now go to a second round of public consultation.
It is thought that around 50MHz of 900MHz spectrum and 150MHz in the 1800MHz band are affected, accounting for more than one-third of the 552MHz of frequencies currently assigned in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong government has been criticised by players including HKT for not offering up any new spectrum at auction to enable operators to prepare for 5G mobile services. Authorities have not released any new frequencies for the past three years and there are no plans to do so over the next three years. The OFCA labelled some of HKT’s comments as ‘reckless and unreasonable’, saying it intends to offer the 700MHz band to mobile operators once it is freed by analogue TV broadcasters, which is expected in 2020, while it will also look at opening up spectrum in the 3.5GHz range once it can be ascertained whether or not mobile use would interfere with existing satellite TV services in adjacent bands.