Hong Kong is starting a subsidy program with the main aim of encouraging early deployments of 5G technology in the territory, telecoms regulator (OFCA) said in a release.

The watchdog said that the new subsidy program was launched under the second round of government funding to combat pandemic impacts. It is open for application until November 2020, on a first-come-first-served basis, OFCA said.

“The scheme aims to encourage various sectors to deploy 5G technology early to foster innovation and smart city applications, and to improve efficiency of their operations and quality of their services that will contribute to enhancing Hong Kong’s overall competitiveness,” OFCA said. “Public and private entities are welcome to submit applications for projects which are able to bring substantive benefits to the businesses and sectors through the deployment of 5G.”

Under the program, the Hong Kong government will provide subsidies for up to 50% of the direct costs related to the deployment of a 5G project, with a cap of HKD500,000 ($64,483). Nearly 100 qualified projects will be subsidized through this approach, the regulator said.

Hong Kong operators China Mobile Hong Kong, Hutchinson and HKT launched commercial 5G services last month.

Along with SmarTone, these carriers had acquired 200 megahertz of 3.5 GHz spectrum for HKD1 billion ($129 million) in mid-October 2019. These 5G licenses will be valid for a 15-year period.

China Mobile Hong Kong recently said that its 5G network will cover the entire Hong Kong city – 90% of the major Central and Western, Wan Chai, and Causeway Bay Districts; nearly 90% of the Kwun Tong District; and close to 80% of the Tsuen Wan District.

China Mobile Hong Kong highlighted that it had carried out a 5G standalone network trial in November last year, which allows for the provision of network slicing services.

3 Hong Kong, the mobile arm of Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong, noted that its 5G base stations are served by a 10 Gbps optical-fiber backhaul network, and that its 5G service is expected to cover the entire territory within the year. Phase-one will see outdoor coverage initially serving Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, Tsim Sha Tsui, Mongkok, Sham Shui Po, Shatin and Tai Po. Indoor coverage will include the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, as well as Hongkong Land’s Grade-A shopping malls such as the Landmark Atrium, One and Two Exchange Square, Chater House, Alexandra House and Prince’s Building. Phrase-two will extend outdoor coverage to Island South, Island East, Central and Western District, Yau Tsim Mong, Kowloon City, Wong Tai Sin, Kwun Tong, Kwai Tsing, Tsuen Wan, Tuen Mun, Yuen Long, North District, Sai Kung and Islands District.

Meanwhile, HKT had previously said that 5G coverage will initially reach 11 of Hong Kong’s 18 districts.

The three telcos did not provide specific information about the number of 5G base stations already deployed to provide coverage in Hong Kong.

SmarTone has yet to announce a date for the launch of 5G services.


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