The government is in favour of a “mixed mode” approach in the handling of frequency spectrum re-assignment for 3G mobile service operators when the existing arrangement expires in 2016, a Legislative Council panel was told on Monday. At present, four 3G operators – CSL, Hong Kong Telecommunications, Hutchison Telephone Company, and SmarTone Mobile Communications – share the 3G frequency spectrum. Their contract will expire in October 2016. The government floated three options for re-assignment last year: allowing the four operators to continue sharing the spectrum; auctioning off the entire spectrum; and a “mixed mode” approach of auctioning part of the spectrum while letting the four operators keep part of it. “If the incumbent operators get less of the spectrum than they currently get, the impact is that the download speed will become slower and phone calls get cut off more often,” Linda Yu Yim-fun, head of competition and economic analysis for the Office of the Communications Authority, told the Legco panel on information technology and broadcasting on Monday. The users may not even get a 3G signal at indoor areas, such as MTR stations, airport terminals, and shopping malls, Yu said. “We think the third plan is more desirable because it can ensure the continuation of the services while…encouraging competition,” she added.