CSL seeks to keep edge by doubling download speeds

With network spending a priority, Hong Kong's biggest mobile operator shows off technology that enables a theoretical peak rate of 300Mb a second

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 September, 2013, 4:49am

CSL, the largest wireless network operator in Hong Kong, with brands including 1010 and one2free, yesterday showcased a new high-speed service with theoretical peak download speeds of up to 300 megabits a second - double its current best.

Chief executive Phil Mottram said he expected the new high-speed mobile service, called LTE Advanced 300, would be put in place across its network in Hong Kong in the next three to four months.

CSL, a subsidiary of Australian telecommunications giant Telstra, launched LTE CAT 4 commercially in Hong Kong in May, with a theoretical web download throughput of 150Mb a second. The standard speed of 4G networks is up to 100Mb a second, while the fastest 3G networks run at 42Mb a second.

"If you think of the network as a highway, we have the widest roads of any operator in Hong Kong," Mottram said.

He said LTE-A300 would offer customers web speeds that none of the company's competitors could match. "They basically can't," he said. "They don't have enough spectrum unless they buy more spectrum."

CSL said the highest speed offered by a competitor in Hong Kong was, in theory, 225 megabits a second.

"We have invested huge amounts in ensuring that we are leading the way to greater speeds and stability by building out the network capacity and leading-edge 4G LTE capabilities," Mottram said.

CSL's capital expenditure in the fiscal year that ended in June was HK$922 million and Mottram said it was likely to be similar this fiscal year, with most of the money spent on network development.

He said the pricing of LTE-A300 should be the same as the current packages offered by CSL.

"Essentially what most of our customers are buying nowadays is a data package," he said. "We are just allowing them to get the data faster."

CSL's chief technology officer Christian Daigneault said the new technology would be tested in CSL laboratories over the next few months and that new devices supporting LTE-A300 would be available next year. "Our network will be mature at that time," he said.

CSL saw subscriber numbers in Hong Kong grow 12 per cent in the past fiscal year to 3.9 million.

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

The Hong Kong government has started a consultation about the renewal of 3G spectrum licences, with the four existing licensees, including CSL, expressing their opposition to any changes.

The licences are due for renewal in 2016 and the government has said it may seize a third of the 3G spectrum currently operated by the four carriers and re-auction it.

Mottram said he did not think the move would bring any new entrants into the market. "I don't think the number of telecoms players in the market will change at all as a result of that," he said.