HK cellcos speak out against 3G plan again

Dylan Bushell-Embling
06 May 2013

Hong Kong's major mobile operators have again spoken out against a regulatory proposal to effectively cut their 3G spectrum holdings by a third, objecting to plans to delay the release of a technical report on the expected impact of the suggestion.

CSL, PCCW-HKT, Hutchison and SmarTone have sent a fresh submission to OFCA in opposition to “option 3”, one of the regulator's proposals for the reallocation of 3G spectrum upon the expiry of existing 3G licenses in 2016.

Option 3 involves renewing licenses for two thirds of operators' existing spectrum holdings for a predetermined fee, and reallocating the remaining third through an auction. This could allow another operator – most likely China Mobile Hong Kong – to secure its own 3G spectrum.

OFCA has estimated that taking away a third of operators' existing 3G spectrum holdings would lead to an 18% reduction in service speed.

But in their latest submission, the four 3G operators claim that this analysis is “seriously flawed and underestimates the significant degradation in overall service quality, not just reduction in data download speed.”

After operators voiced their concerns at a public hearing in late March, OFCA announced it was appointing a technical consultant to prepare a report into the anticipated impact of service quality.

But the agency only plans to announce the results at the same time as making its decision on its call for consultation. The operators' submission insists that keeping the results private defeats the purpose of a feasibility study.

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