The Communications Authority ("CA") published the Spectrum Release Plan ("SRP") for 2017 - 2019 today (21 February 2017) following consultation with the industry through the Radio Spectrum and Technical Standards Advisory Committee of the Office of the Communications Authority ("OFCA").
"Spectrum is a scarce public resource and its supply is by no means limitless. Currently, all the 552 MHz of spectrum which is available and is subject to competitive demand has been assigned to mobile network operators for the provision of public mobile telecommunications services. As to the 34.6 MHz of spectrum in the 2 GHz band which is held in reserve, it can be readily released to the market upon expression of interest by any industry player," a spokesperson for the CA said.
"Though the latest SRP has not identified any new spectrum for public mobile services between 2017 and 2019, the CA and OFCA have been working on making available more spectrum to the industry to cope with the continuous development of public mobile services in 2020 and onwards.
"Looking ahead, there will be several sources of supply of new spectrum, both in low frequency and high frequency bands, for the provision of public mobile services including the coming fifth generation ("5G") services in the time frame of 2020, " the spokesperson added.
First, it is the working target of the Government to switch off the analogue terrestrial television services ("ASO") by 2020 with a review to be conducted in 2017/18. Upon completion of ASO and frequency coordination with the Mainland regulatory authorities to avoid cross-boundary interference, the CA will release spectrum in the 700 MHz band for the provision of public mobile services.
Meanwhile, OFCA will be exploring with the industry on the technical feasibility of using spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band, which is currently allocated to fixed satellite services ("FSS") in Hong Kong, for use also by public mobile services. In view of the potential interference problems between public mobile services within the 3.5 GHz band and FSS, OFCA is minded to be cautious and prudent in the process in order to minimise any adverse impacts on the current FSS users including the hundred thousands of households receiving satellite television services.
Last but not the least, on the international level, the International Telecommunication Union ("ITU") is spearheading efforts on spectrum harmonization in higher frequency bands for the provision of high-speed, high-capacity and low-latency 5G services. The World Radiocommunication Conference ("WRC") held in November 2015 decided that the global allocation of frequency bands between 24.25 GHz and 86 GHz for 5G services would be determined at the next WRC to be held in 2019. OFCA is an active participant of the WRC and is keeping close tabs on regional developments in this regard. OFCA is also putting in hand the planning for clearance of a number of candidate frequency bands as identified by ITU in order to ensure timely release by the CA of the necessary spectrum to the industry upon completion of the global allocation.
According to the Radio Spectrum Policy Framework promulgated by the Government in 2007, the SRP is published on an annual basis to inform the telecommunications industry of the supply of spectrum through an open bidding or tendering process in the following three years.
The SRP for 2017 - 2019 can be downloaded from:
21 February 2017