HKT slams Hong Kong government’s 5G approach

12 Jun 2018

Hong Kong’s largest integrated fixed and mobile operator HKT, part of PCCW Group, has called on the government to make ‘radical changes’ to its spectrum policies and management in order to avoid ‘disastrous consequences’ for the territory’s role as a regional telecoms hub and its future Smart City aspirations.

In the latest of a series of statements addressing Hong Kong’s handling of wireless spectrum, HKT criticises the regulator, the Communication Authority (CA), for its plans to award frequencies for 5G networks by 2020. HKT says: ‘Making spectrum available by 2020 does not allow the launch of 5G services by 2020. As the CA is very well aware, it can take around two years for spectrum assignees to prepare the rollout of the network using newly acquired spectrum … On the CA’s schedule, territory-wide coverage will not be available until 2022.’

The telco continued: ‘What the Government is offering are baby steps only; Hong Kong needs giant steps forward if it hopes to catch up with global leaders including China. Particularly disturbing is that the Government does not seem to understand what is at stake here and, while making Hong Kong a ‘Smart City’ is stated as a policy objective, there seems to be no recognition that no city will be a smart city unless 5G is introduced early and widely.’

HKT is calling on the government to: consolidate the release of the 900MHz, 1800MHz, 3.5GHz and 26GHz-28GHz bands to enable telcos to select their 5G spectrum in a single process; develop specific plans to make 700MHz spectrum available for mobile use; facilitate access to government-owned locations for the installation of cell sites; change the way in which it charges for spectrum and move to a charging model based on a fixed percentage of 5G revenue; and introduce spectrum trading, fully technology-neutral licences and perpetual assignments or, at least, an expectation of renewal.

Meanwhile, HKT has released the results of recent field trials of nascent 5G technology, saying it achieved peak data speeds of 8Gbps in a stationary environment and up to 6Gbps inside a moving vehicle, utilising 800MHz of spectrum and 2×2 MIMO in the 28GHz band.