Public Consultation on Re-assignment of Spectrum in the 850/900 MHz and 2.3 GHz Bands Launched

The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (SCED) and the Communications Authority (CA) today (17 November 2022) jointly launched a public consultation on the proposed arrangements for the re-assignment of 20 MHz of spectrum in the 850/900 MHz bands and 90 MHz of spectrum in the 2.3 GHz band for the provision of public mobile services as well as the related spectrum utilisation fee (SUF).

The 20 MHz of spectrum in the 850/900 MHz bands is currently assigned to two mobile network operators (MNOs) for the provision of fourth generation mobile (4G) services, with the existing assignments due to expire in May 2026. The superb radio propagation characteristics of the spectrum in the 850/900 MHz bands is conducive to operators’ provision of wide network coverage in a cost-effective manner.

The 90 MHz spectrum in the 2.3 GHz band is currently assigned to three MNOs mainly for the provision of 4G services, with the existing assignment due to expire in March 2027. Apart from having good radio propagation characteristics for providing good network coverage, the spectrum in the 2.3 GHz band also has wider bandwidth capable of supporting higher transmission capacity.

“As there are likely to be competing demands for the spectrum, the CA proposes to re-assign it by way of auction. Under the technology neutral approach, prospective spectrum assignees may make use of the spectrum acquired for the provision of 4G, 5G services, etc. to meet the future demand for innovative mobile services and applications,” a spokesman for the CA said.

Similar to the other spectrum assigned for public mobile services by way of auction, SCED proposes that the SUF should reflect the full market value, and will set the auction reserve prices nearer the time.

“The auctioning of spectrum will ensure that such a scarce public resource be put into the hands of those who value it the most and will consequently put it to the most efficient use, thereby benefiting the general public at large,” a spokesman for Commerce and Economic Development Bureau (CEDB) said.

Views and comments from the industry and other interested parties on the consultation paper are welcome on or before 15 December 2022. After taking into account the views and comments received, SCED and the CA target to make their respective decisions no later than May 2023, thereby giving a three-year or more advance notice to the incumbent spectrum assignees before the expiry of the existing assignments.

The consultation paper can be downloaded from the websites of the CEDB and the CA.

Commerce and Economic Development Bureau
Communications Authority
17 November 2022