Sunday 12 January 2020

Hong Kong Getting Ready for 5G with Spectrum Auctions Conclusion

Hong Kong is a small market my some measurements and calculations. According to Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) Statistics, Oct 2018, Hong Kong had:

  • 7.3 million population with 2.49 million household
  • 27 Fixed Operators:
    • Residential fixed line penetration rate 89% household
    • Broadband penetration rate 92.5% household
    • Broadband customer accounts 2.67 million
  • 2 Pay-TV Operators:
    • Pay-TV penetration rate 99% household
  • 4 Mobile Operators:
    • Mobile penetration rate 250%
    • Mobile subscriptions 18.6 million
As can be seen, HKT is the top operator with not just the majority of market share but also most spectrum. This is followed by 3HK, China Mobile HK and SmarTone (SMT).

Mobile World Live has a good summary of all the spectrum auctions:

Hong Kong completed the last of three 5G spectrum auctions, with operators spending a combined HKD665.1 million ($85 million) on 100MHz of 3.3GHz airwaves.

HKT and Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong each paid HKD199.5 million for 30MHz of the mid-band 5G spectrum, while China Mobile Hong Kong and SmarTone forked out HKD133 million apiece on 20MHz.

The Office of the Communications Authority said the successful bidders must pay spectrum utilisation fees and submit performance bonds by 11 December to guarantee compliance with network and service rollout requirements. Spectrum will be assigned that month and be valid for 15 years.

In a statement, HKT said the 3.3GHz band is designed for indoor use and is extremely valuable for supplementing 3.5GHz band spectrum to provide extra capacity in heavily loaded indoor environments such as the underground rail network.

Together with 400MHz of 5G spectrum in the 26GHz and 28GHz bands administratively assigned by the government in March, HKT will have a total of 520MHz of 5G spectrum.

An HKT representative said it appreciates the government’s decision to set more reasonable auction reserve prices, along with other amendments for the 5G spectrum, stating this would boost the development of the industry and benefit mobile users.

HKT and China Mobile Hong Kong were each awarded 40MHz of 5G spectrum in the 4.9GHz band at a reserve price of HKD120 million on 23 October. In mid-October all four operators acquired 200MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum.

The three auctions raised a total of HKD1.91 billion, with market leader HKT and China Mobile Hong Kong each acquiring a total of 120MHz, and SmarTone and Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong 70MHz each.

The official OFCA document on Spectrum Release Plan for 2020 – 2022 is available here.

Back in December, Microwave Journal reported:

China Mobile Hong Kong (CMHK) is Hong Kong's first mobile network operator to have successfully accomplished 5G Standalone (SA) network test and also completed the first voice over NR (VoNR) call. The radio cell sites supporting both 5G SA and NSA network are now installed for trial test at China Mobile 5G Innovation Center Hong Kong Open Lab in Hong Kong Science Park and Mita Internet Data Center in Kwai Chung.

MWL adds, CMHK, the first to launch 5G tests in the territory, acquired 20MHz of spectrum in the 3.3GHz band, 40MHz in the 4.9GHz band and 200MHz in the 3.5GHz band.

A Mobile Network Experience report from OpenSignal in Dec 2019 showed that the mobile ecosystem is thriving well in Hong Kong with customers getting a great experience from all networks.

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