Watchdog stands by decision in iPhone case

Court ruling will not lead to a new hearing into HKT's complaint of 'discrimination'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 July, 2014, 3:38am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 July, 2014, 5:12am

The communications watchdog is standing by a decision to reject a complaint accusing Apple of "discrimination" over barring iPhone 5 users from Hong Kong Telecommunications' network after a defeat related to the case in the Court of Final Appeal.

The Communications Authority yesterday lost its bid to quash a lower court's ruling that its appeals board had jurisdiction to hear HKT's complaint against Apple Asia.

HKT had complained that Apple installed in its phones a SIM-lock device that blocks out HKT's PCCW 4G network but not those of three other telecoms companies: Smartone, CSL and Hutchison.

Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li, Mr Justice Roberto Ribeiro and Mr Justice Joseph Fok, sitting in the Court of Final Appeal, upheld the Court of Appeal's decision.

But last night the authority noted that it had already heard the case after the Court of Appeal ruled against it, and rejected the complaint from HKT on June 30.

"The Court of Final Appeal's decision would not affect the Communications Authority's above decision," it said.

HKT first complained to the Office of the Communications Authority in 2012, claiming Apple Asia and the three firms might be in breach of the Telecommunication Ordinance.

It asked the authority to order the unlocking of the device for HKT's network.

The appeal board at first claimed it did not have any jurisdiction in the matter and therefore dismissed HKT's claim.

But the Court of Appeal ruled that the appeal board could hear HKT's case and told the board to reconsider.

However, in its latest statement, the authority said it had found no reasonable grounds to suspect Apple Asia or the three telecoms companies had infringed anti-competition provisions under the law. HKT had failed to submit sufficient evidence, the authority said.

A spokesman for HKT said last night that it would not offer any comment on the Court of Final Appeal's ruling.