China Unicom

CDMA 3G licence may cost less

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 August, 2007, 12:00am

The Office of the Telecommunications Authority (Ofta), which regulates Hong Kong's telecommunications industry, has implied that the new CDMA 3G licence may be priced lower than those sold in 2001.

Ofta had also appointed consultant firm Spectrum to set up the bidding mechanism for the new licence, which would be auctioned this October, said Marion Lai Chan Chi-kuen, the newly appointed Ofta director-general.

'We hope the auction's guidelines will be announced in the next two months,' said Mrs Lai in a media gathering.

Asked whether the mobile market is too competitive in Hong Kong to turn away potential bidders, Mrs Lai said 'the global spectrum price has been falling over the years ... it's under a market-oriented rule.'

In September 2001, Ofta sold four 3G licences for HK$1.3 billion each. After the internet and telecommunications bubble burst, government officials indicated that the new licence price would depend on market sentiment.

The licence will become effective from November next year after the expiration of a licence held by Hutchison Telecom to run its CDMA 2G mobile services.

Market observers said that China Unicom, the mainland's only CDMA service provider, would be the only possible bidder for the new licence to boost its roaming service.

China Unicom has more than 35 million CDMA mobile phone users in the mainland.

China Unicom is believed to have invited local telecommunications operators such as Wharf T&T and Hong Kong Broadband Networks to bid jointly for the licence or explore co-operation opportunities once it wins in the auction.

Meanwhile, Mrs Lai also said the watchdog would request broadband service providers to announce their service pledge to the public.

'We want the service providers to promise their users to have a high quality of service. They can set a very high standard in terms of downloading speed and they need to announce their regular review of those pledges on the web,' Mrs Lai said.

Lone bidder

China Unicom may be the only bidder for the new CDMA 3G licence

The price at which Ofta sold four 3G licences in September 2001, in HK$1.3b