TECHNOLOGY
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SmarTone

SmarTone provides iPhone 5's first 4G network in Hong Kong

Apple to start accepting pre-orders next Thursday in HK, as networks catch up

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 September, 2012, 9:59am

The newly launched iPhone 5 will be available in Hong Kong and eight other markets next Friday, with SmarTone Telecommunications serving as Apple's 4G mobile network partner in the city.

CSL and Three HK also announced they would start selling the phone on that day and the latter has started accepting pre-registrations on the internet. But their pages include no reminder that subscribers will be connected to slower 3G networks before their infrastructure is ready.

Taking the wraps off yesterday, Apple chief executive Tim Cook declared it "the thinnest, lightest, and best iPhone we have ever shipped". The iPhone 5 is 7.6mm thick and weighs 112 grams, about 20 per cent less than the previous, iPhone 4S, model. It has a larger, four-inch, high-definition display.

Hong Kong, where iPhone models used to arrive later than in the United States, will be included in the first batch of sales for the first time. Its Apple Store will start accepting pre-orders next Thursday.

A release schedule for the mainland was not announced.

An important feature on the iPhone 5 is its support for 4G mobile, based on technology called long-term evolution (LTE). High-speed 4G LTE networks can provide theoretical internet download speeds of up to 100 megabits per second. The fastest 3G mobile networks run at 42Mbps.

In Europe and Asia, 4G LTE on the 1800MHz band will unleash the phone's 4G capabilities. Carriers without 4G on the specified radio frequencies will be able to support the new smartphone on their 3G and 2G networks.

Hong Kong has five 4G network operators, but SmarTone was the only one from the city announced by Apple to be among its initial batch of 4G network carrier-partners worldwide.

SmarTone chief technology officer Stephen Chau Kam-kun said the carrier "was the only one that committed to 4G network coverage on the 1800MHz band right from the start, so now other operators will try to catch up".

Three HK operates its 4G network on 2600MHz. A spokesman said it was working to have its 1800MHz spectrum in service by the end of this month and covering most of Hong Kong by the end of this year.

CSL also operates its 4G on the higher-frequency band and recently started adding infrastructure that supports 1800MHz.

PCCW Mobile's 4G network runs on both frequencies, but its 1800MHz deployment has just started and offers a modest coverage to date.

The iPhone 5 will cost HK$5,588 for the 16-gigabyte model, while the top 64GB model is HK$7,188. The iPhone 4S has been reduced to HK$4,688.