CSL, the largest wireless network operator in Hong Kong, is set to boost the operation of its high-speed, fourth-generation (4G) mobile service by offering it to the mass market.
The carrier, a unit of Australian telecommunications giant Telstra Corp, was the first in Asia to launch a commercial 4G mobile network in November last year, when key corporate customers signed up as early adopters.
'Users will not be paying more than what they do today and they'll be getting a substantially higher speed,' CSL chief executive Joseph O'Konek said yesterday.
Wider use of the operator's super-fast network, based on the wireless technology called Long Term Evolution (LTE), is made possible by the availability of 4G-ready modems, or dongles, from mainland supplier ZTE Corp. These dongles are attached to laptop computers to access the mobile broadband service.
O'Konek said existing customers of the carrier's 1010 brand have first priority to the service and will get a free 12-month upgrade to the next-generation versions of the 4G modem. The current version of the dongle only supports Microsoft's Windows operating system.
Customers can sign up or upgrade their current mobile broadband plan to 4G for HK$399.
'When we get the second-generation dongle within the next few weeks, we'll open up our 4G proposition to the entire Hong Kong market,' said CSL chief marketing officer Mark Liversidge. 'This should become the default norm for mobile broadband in Hong Kong.'
The carrier's 4G network, which was designed and built by ZTE, can theoretically provide peak internet access speeds of up to 100 megabits per second. In actual usage, the service can offer peak connections of up to 35Mbps. That is still about three times faster than typical for 3G services from CSL or those from rivals SmarTone-Vodafone, PCCW Mobile and Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong's 3 network.
Downloading a DVD-quality movie on the 4G LTE network will take four minutes against the 12 to 18 minutes it would take on current high-speed 3G networks.
Research firm Wireless Intelligence has forecast 1.4 million 4G connections in Hong Kong by 2015, when CSL's share of the city's 4G market would be at 40 per cent.
CSL, which has about 2.6 million mobile connections in Hong Kong, invested HK$523 million to acquire its 4G spectrum in January 2009.