Six companies have submitted bids for four 4G licences in Macau, which the regulator plans to award during the first quarter.

Telecommunications Regulation Bureau (DSRT) accepted bids last week from CTM, China Mobile Hong Kong, China Telecom (Macau), Hutchison (Macau), SmarTone and U Hong. Currently CTM, China Telecom, Hutchison (3 Macau) and SmarTone operate mobile networks in the city, which has 1.7 million mobile connections.

CTM is the largest operator while U Hong is a recently established local company set up to bid for the 4G licence. U Hong representative Patrick Yang Cheng, deputy director of local TV station MASTV, said the company has experience running satellite telecoms services, Macau News said.

The winning bidders are required to cover 50 per cent of the territory when they launch 4G services next year and need to have citywide coverage by the end of 2016. The 4G operators will be required to pay 5 per cent of their gross revenue to the government, which is the same as 3G services.

While the government has said it is offering four licences, DSRT vice director Hoi Chi Leong did not exclude the possibility of an extra licence being awarded depending on the bids, the Macau Business Daily reported.