China Telecom has assailed Hong Kong telco PCCW over its CDMA network quality and hints that it may bid for CDMA spectrum in the territory.
In a submission to Ofta on its plans to auction fresh 3G spectrum, the sole mainland CDMA network operator said CDMA roaming quality in Hong Kong was “well short of GSM/W-CDMA networks.”
It said Hong Kong was the most important destination for mainland roaming users, but “the CDMA roaming situation at present cannot satisfy the needs of roaming users.”
The submission noted that Hong Kong was a pioneer in CDMA, operating the world’s first commercial 2G CDMA network.
“However, for many different reasons, in recent years… the level of CDMA development in Hong Kong has declined, network coverage has shrunk, network quality has declined, and the perceptions of roaming users has been greatly affected.”
As a major global economic center and as a major economic window for China, “Hong Kong should fully use its resources to provide a favorable CDMA roaming service for CDMA roaming users worldwide, including those from mainland China,” it said.
The mainland operator said it hoped that the auction would “attract new entrants into Hong Kong to build operate an 850MHz CDMA network,” and called on Ofta to cut the spectrum utilization fee.
The regulator plans to sell off spectrum in the 850, 900 and 2100 MHz ranges, and has said enough frequencies are available to support a new public network across the territory.
PCCW, which already operates a W-CDMA network, paid HK$76 million ($9.7m) for a 15-year license for 850MHz spectrum in October, 2007. It was the only bidder at the auction.
The service, almost exclusively to support roaming customers, was launched in November 2008, providing coverage in the “golden bowl” area of lower Kowloon and northern Hong Kong island. A spokesperson said the coverage complied with its license requirements.
PCCW reportedly tried to sell the network to China Telecom but was turned down because of the price.