The Office of the Telecommunications Authority (Ofta) plans to monitor provision of wireless local area network (WLan) services by requiring Internet service providers (ISP) to apply for a class licence before deployment. It is also opening new frequency bands for less-common WLan standards 802.11a and 802.11g. ISPs that want to operate a public WLan service will need to register with Ofta. The class licence means applicants need only notify Ofta. No licence fee will be levied and no processing procedures will be involved. 'We want to promote the usage of WLan but as it is a public service we will issue licences without charging a fee,' an Ofta spokesman said. The class licence would specify whether the WLan service was operating within the 2,400-2,483.5 megahertz band (for the most popular 802.11b), 5,150-5,350MHz (802.11a) and 5,725-5,850MHz (802.11g), and meeting technical specifications on emission power levels. WLan services are now available in public areas of Swire properties, including Pacific Place, Festival Walk, Taikoo Place and Cityplaza in Taikoo Shing, Pacific Coffee outlets and Haagen-Dazs ice-cream outlets. The licensing system will become effective once it gets approval from the Legislative Council. PCCW, which provides the existing services, said it might consider using 802.11a WLan, which is five times faster than 802.11b. PCCW's consumer group executive vice-president Dominic Leung said: 'We will wait and see if there is an actual need because 802.11a will be more suitable for enterprises.' CLSA telecoms research analyst Francis Cheung said he did not expect explosive growth in WLan in Hong Kong. 'You won't see a lot of new operators entering, given that it's free in some places. I think it's questionable [that they will come in].' Lawrence Cheung, principal consultant at Hong Kong Productivity Council's mobile business solutions, said WLan deployment would not hinder the growth of third-generation mobile services, which were expected to be launched this year. 'Despite some overlapping in usage, people tend to use WLan for access to company data over their pocket PCs or laptops, while 3G is for them to get information over their cellphones,' he said.