The Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) has announced that a total of 49.2 MHz of paired radio spectrum in the 1.9 – 2.2 GHz band was successfully auctioned off to three mobile network operators. Total spectrum utilization fees reach HKD 2.42 billion.
Back in 2001, Hong Kong assigned 118.4 MHz of paired spectrum in the 1.9 – 2.2 GHz frequency band to four incumbent spectrum assignees, namely Hong Kong Telecommunications (HKT), CSL, Hutchison Telephone Company Limited (HTCL) and SmarTone Mobile Communications. The assignments, which last for 15 years, are set to expire in October 2016.
Following the decision of the Communications Authority (CA) in November 2013 on the arrangements for re-assignment of spectrum and CA’s April approval of the acquisition of CSL New World Mobility by HKT, HKT, HTCL and SmarTone accepted the right of first refusal in August 2014 for re-assignment of 69.2 MHz of the concerned spectrum. The remaining 49.2 MHz of spectrum was hence available for re-assignment through auction.
HTCL, SmarTone and China Mobile Hong Kong (CMHK) participated in the auction. HTCL acquired a total of 9.8 MHz of spectrum. Together with the 19.8 MHz of spectrum over which it has exercised its right of first refusal for re-assignment earlier, HTCL would be re-assigned 29.6 MHz of spectrum in the 1.9 – 2.2 GHz band in the new term.
SmarTone acquired a total of 19.8 MHz of spectrum. Together with the 19.8 MHz of spectrum over which it has exercised its right of first refusal for re-assignment earlier, SmarTone would be re-assigned 39.6 MHz of spectrum in the 1.9 – 2.2 GHz Band in the new term, i.e. it would be assigned 10 MHz in excess of its existing spectrum holding in the same band. CMHK will be assigned a total of 19.6 MHz of spectrum in the 1.9 – 2.2 GHz Band in the new term.
Effective October 2016, 29.6 MHz out of the 118.4 MHz in the 1.9 – 2.2 GHz band will be transferred from HKT to SmarTone and CMHK. The incumbent and the new spectrum assignees have about two years to prepare for the necessary network reconfiguration and the roll out of their networks.
These spectrum re-assignments take effect in October 2016. The spectrum will be assigned for a term of 15 years, starting from 22 October 2016 until 21 October 2031.