Trouble near former snoop site

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 August, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 August, 2004, 12:00am

Residents living near the site of a former top-secret listening post which the British used to eavesdrop on the mainland complain that they have to put up with their phones switching to mainland networks.

'Since moving to Chung Hom Kok two years ago, I have had never-ending problems with my mobile phone switching to China mobile while in my home,' said resident Fred Scholle.

Mr Scholle was told by CSL - one of the biggest mobile-phone service providers in Hong Kong - that nothing could be done to rectify the problem because signals from China Mobile's broadcast towers on the mainland were 'very strong', despite the fact that Chung Hom Kok was far from the border.

He switched to Hutchinson Telecom's new 3G network but the roaming problems had persisted.

'How can it be that the signal from China Mobile is stronger than the signals from either of these companies?' Mr Scholle asked in an e-mail to the Post.

Close to the People's Liberation Army barracks in nearby Stanley, for three decades Chung Hom Kok served as a British listening post for microwave telephone lines and radio traffic in the region.

Some believed it was used extensively to monitor developments during the massacre of pro-democracy students in Tiananmen Square in June 1989, and to monitor mainland reaction to the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Shielded by solid rock and clearly visible only from the sea, the facilities were scaled back in 1992. Operations ceased in 1995 and the site was razed before the handover.

Its functions are believed to have been redistributed to different sites in Australia and relocated to the British consulate in Admiralty.

The Chung Hom Kok site has been redeveloped as a global commercial satellite communications link. The Office of the Telecommunications Authority said the telecoms infrastructure at Chung Hom Kok should not affect mobile phones. Neither CSL nor Hutchison were able to comment.