Smart city push threatened by poor spectrum policy: HKT

HKT is urging the government to reform its radio spectrum policies and management (Image jamesteohart / iStockPhoto)

HKT is urging the HKSAR government to make major changes to its mobile spectrum management policies and practices, stating that the fate of the government's smart city aspirations is at stake.

In the latest of a series of discussion papers critical of the government's spectrum policy and management practices published since December 2016, HKT said Hong Kong's telecommunications policy needs an urgent review.

While the Communications Authority claims to be actively laying the groundwork for the launch of 5G services in 2020, the year 5G equipment for mobile services is expected to be widely commercially available, the white paper argues that this is completely misleading.

“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,” it states.

Hong Kong will need to take major reforms to its telecoms policy if it seeks to catch up to global leaders including mainland China, the paper states

“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,” it states.

“Other countries have made enormous strides in freeing up new spectrum for mobile use in anticipation of 5G being an enabler of their smart city policies.”

HKT was critical of the government's decision to only drip feed spectrum into the market rather than making large quantities of spectra across multiple frequency bands available through a single process.

The paper also argues that Hong Kong's policies and approach are at odds with the Greater Bay Area strategy.

It calls on the government to introduce an enforceable statutory right of access for mobile operators to enter buildings, shopping malls, MTR and road tunnels to install and maintain the equipment necessary for an effective 5G rollout, change the way it charges for spectrum and introduce the ability for operators to trade spectrum.

HKT said its recent 5G trials delivered results exceeding expectations, with data rates of 8Gbps in a stationary environment and 5Gbps to 6Gbps delivered to a moving vehicle. This demonstrates that 5G technology is nearing commercial availability.

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