Mobile coverage to be expanded in parks

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 December, 2006, 12:00am

Hikers can expect better mobile network coverage in country parks next year with three new base stations being planned in Lantau, Tai Lam Chung and Sai Kung, according to the Office of the Telecommunications Authority.

This follows the completion of five new base stations this year.

The five are at Cloudy Hill in Tai Po, Shek Uk Shan in Sai Kung, Woodside near Tai Tam Country Park, Tsuen Kam Au near Tai Mo Shan and Robin's Nest near Sha Tau Kok.

The authority said mobile network operators had become more willing to build base stations in country parks after a series of government initiatives.

These include charging a nominal rent of HK$1 a year for use of government land, allowing operators to use existing facilities at government hill-top sites and waiving the fee for additional radio spectrum allocated to serve the country parks.

To enhance the safety of hikers and visitors to country parks, the authority has also made available on its website digital maps showing the mobile service coverage along 125 popular country park hiking trails. Three colours are used on the maps along the trails to indicated mobile service coverage. Green indicates the signal of at least one local mobile network is good. Yellow indicates the voice quality of calls may be poor. And red indicates there is no network coverage.

Ken Ng On-yeung, a professional adviser on mountain adventure, yesterday said he was pleased with the authority's work.

'The digital maps are very useful reference. But we must appreciate that 100 per cent mobile network coverage is almost impossible in the countryside. To play it safe, perhaps, hikers should also carry walkie-talkies,' Mr Ng said.

He also said hikers should plan their trips well ahead to avoid getting into trouble.

'The last thing we want is to be in a situation where we have to use our mobile phone to call police for help,' Mr Ng said.