Hutchison targets major 4G network expansion
Li Ka-shing's telecommunications flagship says it plans to expand its high-speed 4G mobile network in Hong Kong next year when more advanced smartphones become available in the market.
Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong, which has spent more than HK$2 billion upgrading its mobile infrastructure over the past five years, plans to establish a dual-mode network that supports the two standards of the 4G wireless broadband technology called long-term evolution (LTE).
Daniel Chung Yiu-man, the chief technology officer for mobile operations at Hutchison Telecoms, said a new network based on the time-division duplex (TDD) LTE standard, which runs on the 2.3-gigahertz band, is expected to be added next year to the nascent 4G business of the company's mobile phone division, 3 Hong Kong.
That infrastructure would complement the company's recently-launched 4G network based on the frequency-division duplex LTE standard, which is on the 2.6GHz band, by adding more subscriber capacity, enhancing coverage and enabling international 4G roaming services.
Hutchison Telecoms' current 4G network covers about 90 per cent of the city, with full coverage slated for next quarter. Tests of the LTE technology on the MTR have also started.
Advanced 4G networks have theoretical internet download speeds of up to 100 megabits per second. The fastest existing 3G networks run at 42Mbps.
'We plan to implement TDD LTE network trials toward the end of this year,' Chung said. Dual-mode 4G LTE smartphones from different brands would be widely available in the first half of next year, he said.
The city's other local 4G service providers are CSL, China Mobile's Hong Kong subsidiary and HKT, PCCW's telecoms arm. Hutchison Telecom and HKT are partners in the Genius Brand joint venture, which won its government licence in 2009 for 4G services on the 2.6GHz band.
SmarTone Telecommunications planned to roll out its 4G network in the third quarter. The company's chief technology officer, Stephen Chau Kam-kun, said last month that SmarTone's 4G network would provide better in-building coverage 'because it will run on the lower 1.8GHz frequency band'.
Chung said Hutchison Telecom, which has invested about HK$1.48 billion in radio spectrum fees since 2009, 'aimed to become Hong Kong's preferred 4G operator'. The firm expected to accelerate the migration of its 2G subscribers to either 3G or 4G services next year.
The proportion of Hong Kong which Hutchison Telecommunications' 4G network currently reaches. It is aiming for full coverage this year