Communication authority denies political pressure over Hong Kong's 3G

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 January, 2014, 4:48am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 October, 2016, 9:07am

Communications Authority chairman Ambrose Ho Pui-him has categorically denied having been under political pressure when deciding to take 3G spectrum from existing mobile network operators for re-auction.

"There is no political pressure," Ho told lawmakers at a Legco information technology and broadcasting panel meeting yesterday. "I will not do things because of political pressure."

The controversial move was seen by some critics as helping state-owned China Mobile secure greater influence in the local telecommunications market. The authority announced in November that it would seize and put on sale again a third of the 3G spectrum held by each of the four existing operators - CSL, Hong Kong Telecommunications (HKT), Hutchison Telephone, and SmarTone - whose licences will expire in October 2016.

China Mobile does not have a 3G licence in Hong Kong but rents spectrum from other operators. It has expressed interest in bidding for a licence.

The Civic Party's Claudia Mo Man-ching said China Mobile would be the only beneficiary of the change. "It will open the gate for communist Chinese capital to penetrate Hong Kong's telecommunications sector," she said. Her party colleague Ronny Tong Ka-wah questioned whether the authority had been under political pressure.

Ho said the auction was not aimed at serving any specific operator but at introducing competition. "We welcome any company from any country to bid."

In a rare show of support, radical opposition lawmaker Wong Yuk-man backed the government decision.

"Radio spectrum for public mobile services is a scarce public resource," Wong, the panel chairman, said. "The last thing we want to see is that the spectrum is under the control of some big companies forever."