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.
In addition to previously announced plans to assign nearly 4,500MHz of 5G spectrum across five frequency ranges this year, OFCA said it will allocate 160MHz of spectrum in the 600MHz and 700MHz bands from July 2021.
The agency stated it aims 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.
OFCA announced in December 2018 it will assign 4,100MHz of 5G spectrum in the 26GHz and 28GHz bands for use across the territory by Q2 2019, with plans to auction 380MHz of spectrum in the 3.3GHz, 3.5GHz and 4.9GHz bands in mid-2019.
Public consultations on all of these bands were completed in 2018.
More is good
The regulator faced strong criticism over the past two years for its 5G spectrum policy, particularly from market leader HKT, which often complained about the slow release of the airwaves.
Chan Chi Keung, head of group communications at HKT, told Mobile World Live: “We welcome the release of more spectrum for mobile use which is consistent with what the industry has been asking for. We await further details on how this spectrum will be assigned in the consultation process.”
SmarTone CTO Stephen Chau also welcomed the government’s plan to release 160MHz of spectrum, noting: “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.”
He said it would be useful if the government could maintain a planning horizon of at least three years on the release of new spectrum so 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”.
In December 2018, the Hong Kong government raised HKD6 billion ($764 million) from the sale of 120MHz of spectrum in the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands, with all four mobile operators (HKT, 3 Hong Kong, China Mobile and SmarTone) participating.Subscribe to our daily newsletter