Hong Kong carriers secure additional 5G spectrum

Hong Kong’s Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) announced the award of 255 megahertz of spectrum in 19 frequency blocks after a spectrum auction that required a total of 32 rounds of bidding in three days.

In a release, the government agency said that the Hong Kong government secured spectrum utilization fees of a total of UKD 1.87 billion ($244.3 million).

Through this spectrum auction, OFCA made available blocks of spectrum in the 600 MHz, 700 MHz, 850 MHz, 2.5/2.6 GHz and 4.9 GHz bands.  

China Mobile Hong Kong secured licenses for spectrum in three bands, offering a total of HKD648.5 million for 10 megahertz, 15 megahertz and 40 megahertz in the 700 MHz, 2.5 GHz to 2.6 GHz and 4.9 GHz bands respectively, the OFCA said.

Following the results of the spectrum auction, China Mobile Hong Kong is now the largest holder of spectrum in Hong Kong, with 20megahertz of 1.8 GHz, 30 megahertz of 2.3 GHz, 35M megahertz of 2.6 GHz, 60 megahertz of 3.5 GHz and 80 megahertz of 4.9 GHz.

Meanwhile, rival carrier HKT spent a total of HKD599 million to acquire 10 megahertz in the 700 MHz band and 25 megahertz of 2.5 GHz to 2.6 GHz spectrum, OFCA added.

SmarTone secured 5 megahertz of 700 MHz for HKD72 million, 7.5 megahertz of 850 MHz for HKD82.5 million and 40 megahertz of 4.9 GHz spectrum for HKD222.5 million.

Also, Hutchison Telephone spent a total of HKD252 million to acquire 10 megahertz of 700 MHz and 5 megahertz of 2.5 GHz to 2.6 GHz spectrum.

OFCA also said that there were no bids for the acquisition of spectrum in the 600 MHz spectrum band.

“The assignment of the frequency blocks will be valid for a period of 15 years. Each provisional successful bidder is required to pay the spectrum utilization fees (SUF) or submit a letter of credit to guarantee payment of the SUF as specified in the table above, where applicable, by 24 November 2021,” the OFCA said.

The local government had previously said that Hong Kong mobile operators will be required to reach a minimum population coverage of 90% within five years for the 700 MHz, 850 MHz and 2.5 GHz to 2.6 GHz frequencies allocations. The service obligation for the 4.9 GHz band is 50% population coverage with five years, with a requirement for the deployment of at least 100 indoor base stations in the 600 MHz band over the same time period.

China Mobile Hong Kong, Hutchinson and HKT had launched commercial 5G services in Hong Kong in April 2020, while SmarTone, announced the launch of commercial 5G services in the territory using Ericsson’s Dynamic Spectrum Technology (DSS) in May last year.

Local operators had acquired 200 megahertz of 3.5 GHz spectrum in mid-October 2019. These 5G licenses will be valid for a 15-year period.

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