February 21, 2024

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HK set for 5G development

According to a recent press release, the HKSAR Government is promoting the 5G mobile network’s development by opening up its premises to mobile service operators under a pilot scheme, Acting Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development said.

The Secretary stated told legislators that the pilot scheme, launched in March, has identified more than 1,000 government premises where mobile service operators can install 5G base stations.

The Government will consider whether to provide more premises based on the response to the pilot scheme and its progress. The Secretary stated that the 5G network is an important telecommunications infrastructure in Hong Kong with immense potential for business services and smart city applications.

The Government and the Communications Authority are promoting 5G developments in Hong Kong on various fronts, including the supply of spectrum, support for technical trial and implementation of facilitation measures.

Hong Kong’s 5G plans on track

In June 2018, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong noted that Hong Kong’s plan to provide 5G mobile services is keeping pace with the world.

The Chief Executive had noted that an effective communication network would be vital for Hong Kong’s smart city development, and the Steering Committee on Innovation & Technology is studying the matter.

Claims that the Government’s plan for launching 5G mobile services is lagging behind were rejected. Hong Kong is keeping pace with other advanced economies, the CE had noted, adding 5G services are expected to be rolled out globally in 2019 or 2020.

Later, in December 2018, a press release noted that the first batch of 4,100 MHz of spectrum that can be used for fifth-generation mobile (5G) services will be assigned in April 2019 at the earliest for deployment by the operators.

The Government announced the decision after public consultations. It said the 4,100 MHz of spectrum in the 26 GHz and 28 GHz bands will be the first batch available for use for the provision of 5G services.

Among them, 3,700 MHz of spectrum will be assigned for the provision of large scale public mobile services across the city. The remaining 400 MHz of spectrum will be set aside for the provision of localised innovative 5G services to specific groups of users, and applications for assignment will be invited in the second quarter of 2019.

It had also been announced that a total of 380 MHz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band, 3.3 GHz band and 4.9 GHz band would be auctioned by batches in mid-2019.

In February 2019, a report noted that Hong Kong released a 5G spectrum roadmap. Hong Kong’s Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) released a spectrum roadmap for 2019 to 2021, with plans to allocate additional 5G airwaves in two lower bands in 2021.

The agency stated it aims to hold a consultation this year, but noted the target date and timing of the earliest release and assignment are subject to progress in switching off analogue television broadcasting services. The outcome of frequency coordination with China on the use of the two bands to avoid radio interference across the border is another factor.

The head of group communications at HKT noted that the release of more spectrum for mobile use is welcomed as it is consistent with what the industry has been asking for. Further details on how this spectrum will be assigned in the consultation process are awaited.

The CTO of a major telco in Hong Kong also welcomed the government’s plan to release 160MHz of the spectrum, noting, that to meet the capacity requirement of future mobile broadband and various 5G use cases and applications, sufficient spectrum in low, mid and high bands is critical.

It was noted that it would be useful if the government maintained a planning horizon of at least three years on the release of the new spectrum to mobile operators can have sufficient time to make investment decisions for network deployments.

OFCA noted the release plan is subject to annual review and may be amended “as and when it is considered necessary in the light of latest developments”.

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