Hutchison plans greater 'muscle' to seize initiative

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 June, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 June, 1999, 12:00am

Hutchison Telecommunications (Hong Kong) is planning to ramp up its infrastructure investments, adding more fixed land lines and other hardware initiatives to take advantage of opportunities and continuing deregulation in Hong Kong's telecom sector during the next few years, according to a spokesman.

Joseph Chan, Hutchison Telecom's director of operations, Fixed Network, said efforts by Ofta to deregulate Cable & Wireless HKT's strong hold would allow more players into the market and create opportunities to compete for booming multi-media telecom services at the turn of the millennium.

Ofta was trying to minimise the barriers of the monopoly to create a fair playing field, Mr Chan said, adding that the agency's efforts to eliminate monopoly price-bundling over the last six years had led to increased competition, placing Hong Kong at the forefront of advanced telecommunication centres.

Taking advantage of the new openness, Hutchison Telecom would focus its energies on advanced telephony and changing consumer content requirements, Mr Chan said. Strategic investment would include moves into multi-media and broad-band services, Internet access and 3G smart phones, the third generation of wireless digital technology supporting Web browsing.

'We are not just looking at a particular thing,' Mr Chan said, adding that the company anticipated broad growth across all areas of its local phone, paging and data transmission services.

Hutchison Telecom currently ranks as the second largest mobile phone service provider in the SAR with a 30 per cent market share and one million subscribers.

The telecom giant anticipates its Internet subscriber base will swell to more than 100,000 users by the end of the year.

To support multi-media services, Mr Chan said the company would continue its efforts to replace copper wiring with broad-band fibre optics throughout the SAR's office and residential buildings.

The interference-free cabling is expected to be an ongoing project over the next 10 years.

Talks are underway between Ofta and the major mobile phone service providers to determine the regulatory standards for the third generation of wireless mobiles.

Hutchison Telecom, which has a 3G licence application pending, is participating in the talks.

The new regulations are expected to be announced by the second quarter of 2000, with full commercial application from most service providers to follow two years later.

The third generation of wireless is expected to be a major advance as 3G mobiles are expected to be equipped with data speeds of two megabytes per second, enabling full-motion imaging transmission applications such as video-conferencing.

'We don't know what the finalised standards will be at the moment,' a Hutchison Telecom spokesman said.

The company said its existing network was technologically neutral, meaning that it supported both GSM and CDMA, the two dominant industry wireless standards, one of which would support the backbone for 3G.

Neutrality was an advantage because service providers could coax their existing subscriber base on to the new standard with fewer hardware glitches.