SmarTone, the fourth-largest mobile operator in Hong Kong, announced it is conducting separate 5G field trials on the 3.5GHz and 28GHz bands to study the different radio characteristics and fine tune network planning for an upcoming deployment.
Using commercial 5G radio equipment supplied by Ericsson, the tests use 100MHz on the 3.5GHz band and 800MHz on the 28GHz band to achieve peak speeds of 1.5Gb/s and 5.8Gb/s respectively.
The company is targeting launching 5G services sometime in 2020, in line with government plans to release 3.5GHz spectrum, but wouldn’t be more specific on timing, noting it depends on the overall ecosystem, most notably handset availability.
In terms of the release of 5G spectrum, SmarTone CEO Anna Yip said during a press conference the company is okay with the government’s timing, but is concerned about the reserve price of the 3.5GHz band, which will be auctioned in Q3 2020.
“It’s extraordinarily expensive, and we urge the government to review…We have many other things to invest in beside spectrum,” she said.
Stephen Chau, CTO of SmarTone, estimates 5G coverage of at least 30 per cent at launch, with the next-generation network only matching its 4G footprint after two- to three-years.
He said the tests show 28GHz signals are sensitive to obstacles similar to Wi-Fi access points and significantly affected by environmental conditions such as rain.
Last week SmarTone, HKT and China Mobile Hong Kong were each assigned 400MHz of spectrum in the 26GHz and 28GHz bands by the Office of the Communications Authority.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back