16 December 2013

As availability of spectrum is increasingly seen as crucial for the digital development in the Asia Pacific region, Hong Kong is taking important steps in the right direction.

The local Communications Authority announced its decision to re-assign the spectrum in the 1.9-2.2GHz Band (the 3G spectrum). One-third of the spectrum in that range currently held by each of the four operators will be re-assigned by auction before expiration in October 2016. The government believes that, with increasing coverage of the 4G network and the technical upgrade of Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE), the impact on 3G spectrum will be minimal. Public concerns however remain about the possibility of deteriorating service quality and fee hikes. Such lack of confidence is partially fuelled by a recent blunder by the government in its handling of the assignment of spectrum for free television program services, which caused widespread protests. Government plans to expand the public Wi-Fi network have also encountered criticism due to the difficulties in installing Wi-Fi access points on public facilities such as lamp posts and street signs. The Communications Authority and the Highways Department have been working with operators on an accepted standard for equipment installation, to be approved by the end of this year. Expanding public Wi-Fi services will benefit citizens and offload data traffic from the congested mobile networks.

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