HK Broadband seeks review of pole decision

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 June, 2010, 12:00am

Hong Kong Broadband Network has hit back at the Highways Department, saying the director of highways adopted an 'indiscriminate approach' in demanding it remove all the steel poles it had erected in hundreds of locations to mount its telecommunications facilities.

The company filed an application in the Court of First Instance this week to review the director's order that the company remove the poles.

In the filing, the company also asked the court to review decisions by the director stating that it did not observe condition 13 in its licence and that its proposal to erect the poles was not acceptable 'from a highways point of view'. Condition 13 calls for a telecommunications system's alignment on a public road to be to the director's satisfaction.

The director of highways, it claims, adopted 'an indiscriminate approach' in demanding it remove all poles 'without scrutinising the individual circumstances for each pole, and without first ascertaining and/or confirming whether there is in fact an alternative solution for each individual pole before requiring [the company] to remove all the poles'.

It said that under condition 13, there was no requirement for it to obtain prior agreement, consent or indication or satisfaction of the director of highways before the system was installed.

Hong Kong Broadband Network further said that the alignment of the poles would present no problem for highways, even if it had used improper procedures to erect them.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Eva Cheng had earlier told a meeting of the Legislative Council that Hong Kong Broadband Network had abused the application system.

But the company yesterday said the director of highways had erred in thinking that the way in which the company had used application procedures was improper. It said erecting telephone poles was one of the options in the system it had used to apply. The Highways Department's audit inspection team, it said, had not sent it any non-compliance reports or warnings regarding the poles. It contended that the Fire Services Department had confirmed it had no objection in principle to the poles.

The Office of the Telecommunications Authority had said erecting the poles to provide fixed services fell within the scope of its fixed-telecommunication network service licence, the filing said.