Hong Kong operators may fight government plans of spectrum sale

Four mobile operators in Hong Kong may prepare a legal dispute against a government plan to take away and auction off parts of their respective allocated 3G spectrum.

The Communications Authority reportedly plans to take one third of each of the four mobile network operators’ 3G spectrum allocations and auction it off, following the decision to abandon further options including renewing licences at a reasonable fee or putting all existing 3G spectrum up for auction.

According to local sources, the government may already have made its decision for action before the closure of the public consultation on April 11 2013.

CSL, SmarTone Telecommunications, Hutchinson Telecommunications Hong Kong and PCCW’s HKT sent a letter to members of the Legislative Council’s panel on information technology and broadcasting in February this year, stating that the plan seemed “at odds with international practices” in comparison to those in Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

The letter continued to say that choosing to take operators existing 3G spectrum “will have a serious adverse impact on Hong Kong consumers”.

Unwanted effects reportedly include the inability to make or receive mobile calls, dropped calls, slow upload, download and searching data speeds, as well as forcing the four operators to delay further investment in their 3G networks.

Legislator Charles Peter Mok has described the issue as “complex” and the government allegedly commented that if another competitor were to enter the market, competition may increase.

China Mobile has also expressed an interest in bidding in the spectrum auction.

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