Hong Kong issued its first public wireless IoT licences after the Communications Authority (CA) recently created a licensing regime for wireless IoT services using the shared 920MHz to 925MHz frequency band.

CA said the move was taken to prepare Hong Kong to embrace the new era of IoT and 5G services, along with various smart city applications.

A CA representative said: “With the emergence of new generations of wireless and mobile technologies, massive implementation of IoT will become the trend. Hong Kong must prepare itself to keep up with this global trend. The CA decided to establish a new licensing regime to respond to the market development and the industry’s requests in a timely manner.”

Both Thinxtra, a provider of low power wide area (LPWA) networks based on Sigfox technology, and Pixel Networks, a Hong Kong-based LoRa network provider, claimed to be the first to receive a wireless IoT licence in the territory.

Thinxtra said in a statement its network covers more than 30 per cent of the population in Hong Kong. It expects to deploy a total of 100 base stations in the territory by June 2018, providing fully redundant coverage to 95 per cent of the population. It is the exclusive Hong Kong network operator of Sigfox.

The company said devices on its network can be connected for as little as HKD20 ($2.56) a year, with a battery life of up to ten years.

Pixel is focused on IoT applications including automated utility meters, smart lighting, and tracking systems for people and luggage.

The wireless IoT licences are valid for five years and, subject to the discretion of the CA, may be extended for a further period of up to five years. The annual licence fee consists of a fixed fee of HKD100,000 and variable charges based on the number of base stations and wireless IoT devices in use.

Sigfox and LoRa LPWA technologies typically use unlicensed spectrum, unlike 3GPP-standardised LPWA technologies NB-IoT, EC-GSM-IOT and LTE-M.