Hong Kong’s Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) announced that local carriers China Mobile Hong Kong and HKT secured spectrum in the 4.9 GHz band for the provision of 5G services.

In a statement, the regulator confirmed that 80 MHz of spectrum in the 4.9 GHz band had been awarded to both operators which would pay utilization fees for a total of HKD240 million ($30.6 million).

“The provisional successful bidders are required to pay the fees by 27 November 2019. The assignment of the spectrum will take effect in December 2019 with a validity period of 15 years,” the spokesman for OFCA said.

In a statement, HKT, the largest operator in the territory, said the 4.9 GHz band is strategically important as it will raise the overall speed and capacity of its 5G service. The operator also highlighted that it can deploy the spectrum to enhance coverage in two highly populated “restriction zones” in Hong Kong south and New Territories East, where the presence of satellite stations could cause interference with the 3.5 GHz band.

Earlier this month, Hong Kong carriers had each acquired 50 megahertz of 3.5 GHz spectrum in the first of three 5G auctions, raising a total of HKD1.006 billion.

China Mobile Hong Kong paid out HKD 300 million, HKT and SmarTone each spent HKD 252 million, while Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong paid HKD 202 million.

OFCA said the successful bidders are required to pay spectrum utilization fees and submit performance bonds by January 14, 2020, to guarantee compliance with the network and service rollout requirement.

The watchdog also said that the assignment of the 3.5 GHz spectrum will take effect on April 1, 2020 and be valid for 15 years.

HKT, which is the largest telco in the market, said it will launch commercial 5G services in the second quarter of next year, “when the necessary ecosystem is in place”.

Meawhile, SmarTone said it will launch commercial 5G services soon after the 3.5 GHz frequency band is made available.

With the completion of the process to award spectrum in the 3.5 GHz and 4.9 GHz bands, the next steps will be the auction covering the 3.3 GHz band, with the reserve price per MHz set at HKD2 million.


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