HK cellcos call for additional spectrum

26 May 2017

Hong Kong’s mobile operators are calling on the government to release more spectrum to allow them to develop future 5G services, and are also suggesting an overhaul of the current spectrum management plan. HKT, SmarTone and Hutchison 3 have all responded to a consultation by the Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) which asked for input on spectrum utilisation fees.

A report from the South China Morning Post cites HKT managing director Alex Arena as saying: ‘There are fundamental flaws in how the government manages spectrum, they are getting it so wrong.’ He added that more spectrum will be needed for 5G services, and said the government’s decision to not release any new mobile spectrum until 2019 was ‘shameful’. Hong Kong operators currently utilise 582MHz of frequencies in total across all bands, and operators say this is not enough to support 5G services. Mainland China plans to increase its available spectrum from 522MHz to 722MHz by 2019.

Meanwhile, Arena also criticised the policy of re-auctioning spectrum when licences expire, saying it caused uncertainty for operators. SmarTone’s CEO Anna Yip said that a hybrid approach for reassigning the 200MHz of expiring spectrum licences would be best for operators, giving 40% straight back to the current licensee and assigning the remaining 60% via auction.