Regulator gives incumbents first dibs on some 1800 MHz spectrum, more airwaves to be sold via auction
Hong Kong’s telecom regulator has outlined the rules governing an upcoming sale of spectrum in the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands that is currently held by the market’s mobile network operators.
The Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) has a total of 200 MHz of frequencies across both bands to re-assign; the 900 MHz licences expire in January 2021 and the 1800 MHz concession in September of the same year.
It has reserved 20 MHz of spectrum for each of the four market incumbents – China Mobile Hong Kong, HKT, 3 Hong Kong, and SmarTone – by giving them the right of first refusal on those airwaves, in order to ensure some continuity of service.
"As all four incumbent spectrum assignees accepted the [right of first refusal] offer in early September 2018, a total of 120 MHz of spectrum, comprising 50 MHz of spectrum in the 900 MHz band and 70 MHz of spectrum in the 1800 MHz band, will be available for bidding in the coming auction," an OFCA spokesperson said, in a statement.
The remaining 70 MHz of 1800-MHz spectrum and 50 MHz of spectrum in the 900 MHz band will now be auctioned off. Interested parties should submit applications between 15 and 16 November, with the bidding due to start in December.
The state has set a reserve price of HK$38 million (€4.1 million) per MHz.
The 50 MHz of 900-MHz frequencies will be split into five 10 MHz blocks, while the 1800 MHz spectrum will be divided into three blocks of 20 MHz and one of 10 MHz.
"To avoid an unduly high concentration of spectrum holding in the hands of a single assignee, a spectrum cap of 90 MHz will be imposed on the aggregate amount of spectrum in the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands which may be acquired by any assignee, with a sub-cap of 20 MHz for spectrum in the 900 MHz band which may be acquired by any successful bidder," the spokesperson explained.