Public benefiting from competition and liberalisation
I refer to Albert Cheng's column headlined 'Policy encouraging telecoms investment would help avoid outages' (South China Morning Post, September 19).
Since the opening up of the local fixed network in 1995, investment of about $5 billion has been made by the three new fixed network operators up to end-1998. Including the incumbent's (PCCW's) investment, the total investment in the fixed telecommunications infrastructure in Hong Kong from 1995 to 1998 amounted to about $15 billion.
From 1999 to 2002, these three new fixed network operators have committed to making an additional minimum investment of $3 billion, guaranteed by performance bonds. New external facilities and local wireless fixed operators have committed to investing $5.7 billion up to 2002. These, too, are investments guaranteed by performance bonds.
Including the incumbent's investment, the total investment in the fixed telecommunications infrastructure in Hong Kong from 1999 to 2002 will have totalled at least $15 billion.
Based on the above statistics, I do not agree that liberalisation and the introduction of competition have adversely affected investment in our telecommunications market. On the contrary, we have seen continuing and substantial investments by operators which provide the public with a world-class telecommunications infrastructure, with choice at competitive prices.
There is no evidence that the telephone network congestion on September 11 was connected to the level of investments made by fixed network operators. From our investigation so far, the congestion was mainly caused by the sudden surge of traffic on that day. Any network with a reasonable design will inevitably experience difficulties when the traffic surges to more than six times the normal volume.
The Office of the Telecommunications Authority is very concerned about the incident on September 11 and will work with the network operators and other relevant government departments to see that such situations are better handled in the future. We explained our work plan to the Information Technology and Broadcasting Panel of the Legislative Council on September 17.
M. H. AU
Acting Director-General of Telecommunications