The United Kingdom’s recent 5G spectrum auction drew good response from telecom operators, helping generate about 1.36 billion pounds in revenue for the British government.
O2 turned out to be the biggest winner, snapping up 40MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum and 40MHz of 2.3GHz spectrum. Vodafone acquired 50MHz of the 3.4GHz band. EE picked up 40MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum. However, Three came away with just 20Mhz of 3.4GHz spectrum.
2.3GHz spectrum is mainly for strengthening 4G signals while 3.4GHz is for 5G networks.
Other European nations such as Italy, Portugal are also looking to hold 5G spectrum auctions very soon.
In Hong Kong, the Communications Authority last week launched a public consultation for 5G spectrum auction.
The Authority indicated that it would prefer to wait for the International Telecommunication Union’s final decisions on 5G spectrum details before holding an auction.
That means the auction will be held in 2019 at the earliest.
Hong Kong used to follow closely the moves of UK and other European nations when it launched 3G and 4G services previously.
But this time, the city has been relatively slow as an adopter of 5G technology.
5G requires more base stations to be built. Hence it will take longer time to pick the proper sites for installation.
If Hong Kong is going to be lagging other regions by about one year to just issue licenses, we will fall further behind in making 5G available to the market.
5G will be critical for future technology development, such as Internet of Things and smart city initiatives.
As Hong Kong government had said often that it is keen to push innovation and high-tech industry development, it is difficult to understand why authorities have been so slow on 5G-related work.
If the government seriously wants to transform Hong Kong into a smart city, the Communications Authority needs to step up pace in granting of the 5G licenses.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 8
Translation by Julie Zhu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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