HK to auction another 30MHz of 3G spectrum

Robert Clark
01 Apr 2010

The Hong Kong regulator, Ofta, aims to sell off more nearly 30MHz off 3G spectrum in an auction that may allow another operator into the saturated local mobile market.

Following an industry consultation, it announced Wednesday that it plans to auction four blocks of spectrum in the 850MHz, 900MHz and 2100MHz bands as early as the fourth quarter of 2010.

The regulator said that with 29.7MHz available, “it is feasible for a new entrant to set up an entirely new territory-wide public mobile network.”

It will sell 2 x 5MHz in the 850MHz and 900MHz bands, and 9.7MHz in the 2GHz band.

Ofta said the 850MHz band could be used either for a second cdma2000 network or for a W-CDMA deployment.

Hong Kong already has five GSM or W-CDMA mobile networks and a cdma2000 network serving a population of 7 million people. The mobile penetration rate is 167% - one of the highest in the world.

As with previous 3G and 4G auction, Ofta will sell the spectrum via an auction and a one-off spectrum utilization fee.

Operators contacted by said it was too early to make a decision on whether they would bid for the spectrum.

SmarTone CTO Stephen Chau said it was "difficult to see a viable business case," but said the operator would evaluate the market before making a decision.

In filings to the consultation some operators expressed concern about possible interference issues.

In its submission, CSL cited a "serious interference issue" between adjacent bands in the 850MHz and 900MHz blocks of spectrum.

China Telecom, the mainland CDMA operator, hinted at its interest in the auction, which it said would help create a better competitive environment in the territory Hong Kong for CDMA roamers.

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