PCCW seeks judicial review of Ofta ruling

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 October, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 October, 2004, 12:00am

PCCW has filed for a judicial review of the telecommunications regulator's decision to let a smaller rival operate voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services over its network.

PCCW is asking the court to quash the decision, calling it unlawful.

It is also seeking an injunction compelling the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (Ofta) to prevent Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) from offering VoIP services until the court makes a final determination.

The action follows a PCCW threat to Ofta last week to seek relief in the courts if HKBN's VoIP service was not shut down by last Thursday.

'In raising this matter with the [authority], we are not taking issue with internet phone services or VoIP,' group managing director Jack So Chak-kwong said in a statement yesterday.

'Rather, we are querying the legitimacy of [a fixed telecommunications network services] licence holder [HKBN] providing a service that is outside the scope of its licence.'

In September, Ofta stated in a letter to PCCW that HKBN's licence permitted it to offer VoIP services.

An Ofta spokeswoman refused to comment on the filing.

However, a government source said Ofta maintained the view that fixed telecommunications network services operators were allowed to provide VoIP telephone service.

'Whether operators embrace the VoIP challenge as an opportunity or as a threat depends on their own strategy for the next generation networks, or the lack of it,' said the source, adding that overseas telecommunications operators had embraced the technology.

PCCW said in the filing that HKBN's VoIP service, which works by connecting a telephone to any broadband modem, did not require two fixed points to function and could be used anywhere without geographical limitations.

Offering fixed-line service between two fixed points was a condition under HKBN's licence, it argued.

Additionally, 'PCCW-HKT will suffer financially in the event that a customer who signs up to HKBN's VoIP service terminates his telephone service contract with PCCW-HKT,' PCCW said in its court submission yesterday.

HKBN declined to comment.