Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong, buoyed by strong gains from last year, is preparing to launch its 4G mobile network to meet rising demand for high-speed, wireless data services in the city.
Chief executive Peter Wong King-fai said yesterday the company would introduce its fourth-generation mobile network 'within the first half of this year'.
Wong said the timing would depend on the wider availability of devices that supported the network.
The operator, a unit of conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa, formed a joint venture called Genius Brand with HKT, the telecommunications arm of PCCW, which won a government licence in 2009 to deliver citywide 4G services on a block of radio spectrum in the 2.6-gigahertz band.
Wong's 4G announcement followed that of HKT group managing director Alex Arena, who said last month that HKT was ready to roll out its 4G services by the middle of this year.
Huawei Technologies, the mainland's largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, was contracted by Genius Brand in August last year to build and deploy an advanced mobile infrastructure based on the 4G standard called frequency-division duplexing, long-term evolution (LTE).
Wong said Hutchison Telecom had not yet drawn up plans to develop another 4G network on its own that would deliver services based on the 4G standard called time-division duplexing LTE. The company last month won a licence to operate 4G services on a block of spectrum in the 2.3-gigahertz band, which it had acquired for HK$150 million in a government tender.
Internet download speeds on a 4G LTE network connection can reach up to 100 megabits per second, while recent advances in 3G networks offer download speeds of up to 42 megabits per second.
Following a recent test of the city's three 3G networks, Macquarie Securities analyst Lisa Soh said Hutchison Telecom, SmarTone and CSL delivered internet download speeds in an average 3 megabits per second range on their respective infrastructure.
An upbeat Wong said the outlook for Hutchison Telecom's mobile business was 'very encouraging as the market saw greater smart-phone penetration and growth in data usage, which will translate to revenue growth and business opportunities'.
Hutchison Telecom, which operates both wireless and fixed-line networks, yesterday reported a 35 per cent increase in net profit to HK$1.02 billion last year from HK$755 million in 2010. The result was fuelled by record growth in smart-phone sales and data usage in its mobile business, while its fixed-line business achieved steady gains.
Revenue climbed 36 per cent to HK$13.41 billion last year from HK$9.88 billion in the previous year. Basic earnings per share were 21.17 HK cents, compared with 15.68 HK cents in 2010.
The number of mobile subscribers Hutchison Telecom has in Hong Kong and Macau as of December