Following the CA's promulgation on 21 March 2017 of its work plan to make available spectrum in the 24.25 - 27.5 GHz band ("26 GHz band") as part of the first batch of spectrum to be used for the provision of 5G services in Hong Kong, the CA today (18 April 2017) exercises its power under sections 32G(1) and 32H(3) of the Telecommunications Ordinance (Cap.106) ("TO") and serves notices on the two carrier licensees (i.e. SmarTone Communications Limited and Hutchison Telephone Company Limited) on the withdrawal of the frequencies in the 26 GHz band which has been assigned to them. The frequencies withdrawal will take effect from 1 April 2019.
Under section 32G of the TO, the CA has a statutory duty to promote the efficient use of spectrum as a scarce public resource of Hong Kong. Under section 32H of the TO, the CA is empowered to assign radio frequencies and to, subject to giving a reasonable notice to the frequencies assignee, vary or withdraw frequencies.
"It is necessary to withdraw the assignment of frequencies in the 26 GHz band in order to better prepare Hong Kong for the launch of 5G services in around 2020, if not before", a spokesperson for the Office of the Communications Authority ("OFCA") said.
"The International Telecommunication Union has identified spectrum in the frequency range of 24.25 - 86 GHz for deliberation of global allocation for 5G services at the next World Radiocommunication Conference to be held in November 2019. Within this frequency range, the 26 GHz band is the lowest one which is actively being considered by many economies elsewhere for 5G deployment. Considering that some frequencies in the 26 GHz band are being used by two carrier licensees for fixed links in Hong Kong, the CA has come to the view that these frequencies should be withdrawn pursuant to the sections 32G(1) and 32H of the TO," the spokesperson continued.
In accordance with the Statement issued by the former Telecommunications Authority entitled "Minimum Notice Periods for Variation or Withdrawal of Spectrum Assignments" in January 2008, the CA considers that under the present circumstance, it is appropriate to give the concerned carrier licensees an advance notice of around two years on the frequencies withdrawal, which means the withdrawal of the concerned frequencies in the 26 GHz band will take effect from 1 April 2019.
To enable the continued operation of the existing fixed links by the affected licensees, the CA is prepared to assign to them alternative frequencies in other frequency bands as replacement. OFCA will closely follow up with these licensees so as to effect frequency relocation before the expiry of the notice period.
The notices pursuant to Section 32H of the TO on withdrawing the concerned frequencies in the 26 GHz band assigned to the two carrier licensees are published today on the official website of the CA, which are available respectively at:
http://www.coms-auth.hk/filemanager/statement/en/upload/399/HTCL_26GHz_Band_Notice.pdf and http://www.coms-auth.hk/filemanager/statement/en/upload/400/SCL_26%20GHz_Band_Notice.pdf.
Office of the Communications Authority
18 April 2017