HONG KONG (01/19/2000) - Hong Kong yesterday opened up its broadband Internet service market, issuing six licenses for carriers to offer high-speed data services in competition with incumbent Cable & Wireless HKT, the government announced in a statement.
In addition to a license granted to i-Cable Communications Ltd. for Internet service over its existing cable network, the government licensed five companies to provide services over fixed wireless networks. Such networks use wireless to bridge the last mile from the carrier switch to the customer's premises, thus bypassing the local network provider.
Also yesterday, the government licensed 12 carriers to offer external long-distance services over satellite, paving the way for much more aggressive competition in international telephony.
Together, the moves are expected to vastly expand the Internet services options available in Hong Kong, where fledgling Internet companies are attempting to gain a foothold in the exploding Asian Internet industry.
Officials of the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) said response to a May 1999 call for fixed wireless applications exceeded the agency's expectations. Moreover, because of applicants' hefty demands on scarce radio spectrum allocated to fixed-wireless bandwidth, OFTA had to narrow its choice to five. The finalists were chosen on the quality of their applications.
Fixed-wireless licenses were issued to PSINet Hong Kong Ltd., HKNet-Teligent Co. Ltd., Hong Kong Broadband Network Ltd., Eastar Technology Ltd., and SmarTone Mobile Communications Ltd.
The license for i-Cable Communications Ltd, the territory's incumbent pay-TV provider, was issued following a special application by the company, according to OFTA.
OFTA can be reached at +852-2961-6333 or on the Web at http://www.ofta.gov.hk.