HK cellcos bring 3.5G back home

John C. Tanner
11 Mar 2010

At an LTE event last year, eMobile president and COO Eric Gan raised a few eyebrows by insisting that LTE would challenge fixed-broadband to the point of cannibalizing FTTH.

Cellcos in Hong Kong aren't quite taking the argument that far but are definitely betting on 3.5G as a DSL substitute, even as the leading fixed-broadband players start moving to fiber.

SmarTone-Vodafone kicked off the trend in May last year with its Home Broadband and Phone service, which leveraged its HSPA network against Hong Kong's PCCW as a voice/fixed-broadband package. In late January, Telstra-owned CSL made a similar move with Next G Lifestyle Home Broadband under its one2free brand.

The services are similar in that they offer a wireless gateway that uses 7.2-Mbps HSPA as the last mile link. Customers can connect to the gateway either via Wi-Fi or Ethernet cables, and can also plug in analog phones for voice calls.

Home coverage

The chief difference for CSL, says Han Kotterman, chief strategy officer for CSL, is indoor coverage.

"We offer 3G on 900 [MHz], which no one else in Hong Kong has," he told Telecom Asia. "With 900 coverage you get much better indoor penetration of the signal, so that helps us to deliver a broadband experience in the home as it was meant to be."

Kotterman also points out that CSL is offering a higher uplink speed (5.76 Mbps vs SmarTone-Vodafone's 2 Mbps).

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