Hong Kong MTR

MTR's 4G plans ignore lease dispute

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 November, 2013, 4:37am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 November, 2013, 4:37am

The MTR Corporation plans to have its entire system covered by a 4G mobile network by the end of the year - even though it is still arguing with the government over the legality of the move.

The railway operator said yesterday that 4G was already available on the Island, Kwun Tong, Tsuen Wan, Tseung Kwan O and Tung Chung lines, and it was starting to install it on other sections. The network would also be available on the West Island and South Island lines and the Kwun Tong Line extension when they came into service, it said.

The company is still in talks with the Lands Department about whether building and leasing out a fibre-optic network in its tunnels breaches the land lease.

The issue came to light in July when it was reported that the company made HK$200 million a year this way.

The department said at the time that the construction and lease of the network were not allowed, however the railway company disagreed.

The MTR continued to insist yesterday that it had not breached the lease.

A spokeswoman acknowledged that the corporation was still talking to officials but no further information could be released.

"To improve our service and to meet the public's demands, the MTR has always co-operated with telecom companies to install fibre-optic networks," she said.

"The MTR believes the installation and set-up of the network abide by the land lease."

Secretary for Transport and Housing Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung told the Legislative Council last July that he hoped the MTR would respect the terms of its lease.

In July this year, the MTR started offering 15 minutes of free Wi-fi service in all 84 existing stations.

Each passenger can access the network a maximum of five times a day.

The Lands Department was asked for its reaction to the MTR plans but it failed to respond by press time.