Firm refuses to remove telecoms poles

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 May, 2010, 12:00am

The government is considering taking legal action over the installation of some 500 iron poles by Hong Kong Broadband Network after the company refused to remove them.

The firm has been accused of taking advantage of the Highways Department's simplified application system to put up hundreds of poles on roadsides in Central, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and Jordan.

The department told the company to remove the iron poles in February.

The poles, with telecom equipment, were put up early this year to provide a service to old buildings or ones that do not have sufficient space to install broadband equipment.

The government was not aware of the installation until people complained that the poles blocked drivers' views and also blocked loading and unloading areas.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Eva Cheng told a meeting of the Legislative Council yesterday that the company had abused the application system: 'The application system allows maintenance of light poles but the company used it to install new poles. This is obviously an improper use of the application mechanism.'

Telecom companies can do small-scale works involving an excavation not exceeding four square metres. All they need to do is register the works online two working days before the work starts.

Cheng said Hong Kong Broadband Network did not submit details of the installation and it carried out large-scale work in a piecemeal manner. She said the Highways Department asked the company to remove all the iron poles in February but it refused to do so.

Cheng said the Highways Department and the Lands Department were now together seeking legal advice to establish whether Hong Kong Broadband Network had violated conditions set out in a block licence, which allows telecommunications network service providers to maintain their systems and associated facilities on government land.

If the company was found to have failed to comply with licence conditions, she said the government could cancel the company's licence for its service with the maximum penalty being a fine of HK$50,000 and six months' jail.

A spokeswoman for Hong Kong Broadband Network said the company was willing to remove 350 iron poles which had not received approval from the Highways Department.

The spokeswoman said a block licence allowed service providers to erect poles and the company had followed the normal procedures of the industry and relevant regulations. She said other operators had also erected poles on roadsides.

The company hopes the government will study the feasibility of transferring the transmission equipment to existing roadside facilities instead of using iron poles.