TELECOMS

Hutchison eyes next wave of growth

HGC's capital spending of more than HK$600m to focus on telecoms network for homes, SMEs

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 November, 2015, 11:44pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 November, 2015, 11:44pm

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Hutchison Global Communications (HGC), part of Li Ka-shing's telecommunications empire, is gearing up for a new wave of investments and services after spending more than HK$10 billion over the past 20 years building an extensive fibre-optic network across Hong Kong.

"Our major thrusts in the next few years include expanding aggressively in the home market, addressing the small and medium-sized enterprise market, and our data centres, which are very important drivers for various cloud-based services," said Peter Wong King-fai, the chief executive and group managing director at Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong.

HGC, the fixed-line network business of Hutchison Telecom, marked its 20th anniversary last month, which provided an opportunity for its senior management to discuss future initiatives.

"We are also watching very carefully the developments in 5G mobile technology," Wong said.

He said 5G operations in some markets were targeted in 2020, after the official standards for the technology are drawn up and widely adopted by the global telecommunications industry.

Japanese telecommunications carrier NTT Docomo, for example, is scheduled to start its 5G network trials a few years ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Capital spending at HGC, which recorded first-half revenue of HK$1.98 billion, is between HK$600 million and HK$700 million this year, according to Hutchison Telecom chief operating officer Jennifer Tan Yuen-chun. "We expect to be very busy next year," she said.

According to sources, HGC could play an important role as the domestic telecommunications infrastructure provider for Apple Pay, the mobile payment and digital wallet service of US technology giant Apple, when it is launched in Hong Kong next year.

Wong declined to comment on the speculation about Apple Pay but said HGC had "kept its strategy of being only a network provider - a platform that is open to other content providers".

PCCW Group's HKT, which operates the largest mobile and fixed-line networks in Hong Kong, introduced its own mobile-payment service called "Tap & Go" in July.

Wong said HKT and Hong Kong Broadband might be ahead in the home market, but HGC's long experience in serving local and multinational business customers made its fibre-optic network highly competitive in terms of speed and reliability.

"Our network consists of more than 1.4 million kilometres of fibre optic cable," he said.

The network covers about 1.7 million households, which HGC plans to expand to two million by the end of 2017.

Wong also said the company's fixed-line network covered more than 90 per cent of commercial buildings in the city.