Hong Kong’s regulator allocated additional spectrum for the provision of public mobile services, a move it said would put the market at the forefront of adoption of advanced technologies including Licensed Assisted Access (LAA).

The Communications Authority (CA) officially allocated 580MHz of spectrum in the 5GHz band. The move represents a significant addition to the existing total capacity of the 552MHz of spectrum in the sub-3GHz bands already assigned to mobile operators, CA said in a statement.

Extending the capacity will enable Hong Kong to become one of the first economies in the world to adopt advanced mobile technologies such as LAA in the 5GHz shared band for the provision of higher-speed public mobile services, CA added.

“With immediate effect, MNOs may apply to the CA for the use of the concerned band on a shared basis to provide public mobile services through necessary amendments to their unified carrier licences,” a CA representative said.

“The CA has been actively exploring ways to make available additional spectrum for the provision of public mobile services. The CA will continue to closely monitor the market and technology developments and will make available other suitable spectrum in a timely manner to further enhance the development of the mobile industry,” the representative added.

In February, the CA conducted a public consultation on making the 5GHz shared band available for public mobile services. The proposal received general support from the industry.

Tried and tested
Hong Kong mobile operator SmarTone and Sweden-based equipment vendor Ericsson in August 2017 conducted a trial of LAA technology using 10MHz of licensed LTE spectrum and three 20MHz bands of unlicensed 5GHz spectrum to achieve peak download speeds of up to 800Mb/s.

Unlicensed spectrum such as the 5GHz band is generally used for Wi-Fi. LTE-LAA combines licensed 4G spectrum with unlicensed frequencies in the 5GHz band to deliver higher speeds. LAA is a key technology as operators evolve their networks to achieve gigabit LTE speeds, which requires more spectrum than most operators have access to.