CSL raises the ante on 4G network services

City's largest mobile network operator adds spectrum to increase high-speed coverage, following investment of more than HK$1 billion

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 May, 2013, 4:27am

CSL, the largest wireless network operator in Hong Kong, yesterday started switching on additional 4G network spectrum to boost its high-speed mobile services coverage across the city.

The company, a subsidiary of Australian telecommunications giant Telstra Corp, said the expansion was made possible by more than HK$1 billion it had invested on network development and innovation since last year.

It now provides 20 megahertz of 4G spectrum in the 2.6-gigahertz frequency band, up from 15MHz previously.

It also plans to have 20MHz of 4G spectrum on the 1.8GHz band by adding up to 10MHz of spectrum between June and early next year.

High-speed 4G mobile services in Hong Kong are made available in the 2.6GHz and 1.8GHz bands, which are the frequencies supported by the makers of 4G smartphones, media tablets, Wi-fi routers and various other devices.

Phil Mottram, the chief executive at CSL, said: "By adding additional spectrum, we're kind of widening the roads on CSL's network."

He said that meant "more capacity and greater download speeds" on the devices of 4G network subscribers.

Mottram said CSL's 4G services now covered 95 per cent of the city and that the operator had the most spectrum supporting the 4G standard called frequency division duplex long-term evolution (FDD-LTE).

Advanced 4G networks have theoretical web download speeds of up to 100 megabits per second, while the fastest 3G networks run at 42Mbps.

The two recognised 4G network standards are the more mature FDD-LTE and time-division duplex long-term evolution, which is championed by China Mobile.

Christian Daigneault, the chief technology officer at CSL, said the expanded 4G spectrum delivered "better user experience" that translated to faster download speeds for online games and movies, as well as synchronising with other internet-based services.

CSL also launched for pre-order yesterday the first "Category 4" 4G device in Hong Kong, a pocket Wi-fi router with its own service plans. More Category 4 devices, which enable faster 4G download speeds, are expected to become available in the second half of this year.

The company, which has more than 3.2 million subscribers, was the world's first mobile carrier to launch a dual-band 4G network in November 2010. It has multiple service brands, including the premium 1010, the mass-market one2free and New World Mobility.

While CSL was improving its 4G network services, Mottram pointed out the company disagreed with the Hong Kong government's plan to seize and re-auction chunks of 3G spectrum being used by local operators.

The plain reason was that "it takes a long time to move customers from one [wireless] technology to another", he said.

As an example, he said a third of CSL's customers were still using 2G services.

SmarTone Telecommunications, CSL, Hutchison Telecommunications and PCCW's HKT have called on the government to automatically renew their 3G spectrum licences, which are due to expire in October 2016.