Hong Kong’s Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) has concluded a HK$6 billion ($766.6 million) auction of spectrum in the 900-MHz and 1800-MHz bands , with each of the market’s big four mobile operators participating.
A total of 50 MHz of spectrum in the 900-MHz band and 70 MHz in the 1800-MHz band was successfully auctioned off this week, marking the completion of the second stage of the hybrid re-assignment approach for expiring spectrum licenses.
As part of this approach, incumbent spectrum holders China Mobile Hong Kong, HKT, SmarTone and Hutchison Telephone Company were given the right of first refusal for the reassignment of 80 MHz of the expiring 1800-MHz spectrum, with the remainder assigned to be reallocated through the now concluded spectrum auction.
During the auction, HKT acquired 40 MHz of spectrum across the 900-MHz and 1800-MHz bands over two contiguous blocks. Together with its administratively re-assigned 20 MHz of spectrum, the operator will now have 60MHz of spectrum across the two bands.
China Mobile Hong Kong and SmarTone meanwhile both acquired 30 MHz of spectrum to take their total holdings across the two bands to 50 MHz, while SmarTone acquired an additional 20 MHz on top of the 20 MHz it will be administratively reassigned.
According to an OFCA spokesperson, following the assignation of the auctioned spectrum, some frequencies will change hands between operators.
“The incumbent spectrum assignees will have a transitional period of about two years to reconfigure their existing networks and/or roll out additional network infrastructure,” the spokesperson said.
“OFCA will coordinate with them to ensure a smooth changeover during the run up to the commencement of the new assignment term."
Meanwhile each successful bidder will be required to submit a letter of credit by March guaranteeing payment of the spectrum utilization fees.
The new licenses will have a term of 15 years following the expiry of existing spectrum assignments.