Study to look at fee for airwaves

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 September, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 September, 1994, 12:00am

THE feasibility of charging broadcasters and communication firms for their use of radio bands will be examined by a government-appointed consultant.

Users of the airwaves who may be affected include radio stations, government departments, public utility companies, and paging and mobile phone companies.

Director-General of Telecommunications Alexander Arena said: '[The range of radio frequencies] is a limited and valuable public resource, but it is presently allocated and assigned to users based on an administrative system which does not necessarily take the full value of the spectrum into account.

'The existing spectrum management system may not lead to the most efficient utilisation of the radio spectrum,' he said.

A $2.5 million contract has been awarded to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Management Consultants to review the arrangement and study the feasibility of introducing charges.

Office of Telecommunications Assistant Director Au Man-ho said economic mechanisms pointed to the introduction of spectrum use fees.

As use of the radio spectrum was free at present, users might not have an incentive to maximise resource, Mr Au said.

With the introduction of charges, users would be encouraged to make best use of the spectrum or else they might consider switching to other advanced technology, thus freeing space.

'We do not intend to increase the operating costs of the users. We may have to make some adjustment between the existing licensing fees and the spectrum utilisation fee if it is to be introduced,' he said.

RTHK assistant director Raymond Ng Sek-fai doubted the introduction of charges would benefit the public.