SmarTone will spend billions for 5G rollout

Business | Kevin Xu 6 Jun 2019

SmarTone Telecommunications (0315) yesterday said it is investing billions of Hong Kong dollars to develop its 5G network but promised not to set high prices for the service in the early stages of its launch.

The subsidiary of Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016) said it will launch 5G services next year without offering a specific timetable

Head of engineering of SmarTone Ivan Leung said the 5G service will mainly employ the 3.5GHz frequency band.

SmarTone carried out 5G trials in both 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz bands earlier this year and will conduct 5G pilot network testing in malls and hotels run by Sun Hung Kai Properties.

Allen Fung Yuk-lun, deputy chairman of SmarTone and executive director of SHKP, said the company's 5G service will not be too expensive as the telecommunications market in Hong Kong is competitive.

Fung said the development of 5G will put cost pressures on SmarTone.

He expects the government to lower the reserve price at the spectrum auction, which will allow telecoms operators to build more base stations.

China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is set to roll out commercial 5G licenses shortly.

Fung said 5G is developing fast in the mainland as the Chinese government does not charge spectrum utilization fees and suppliers can invest in a bold manner.

He said SmarTone will call for a tender to supply 5G equipment in the second half of the year and Huawei Technologies is on the list, adding that the company's 5G development will not be impacted by the United States' sanctions against Huawei.

The US government added Huawei to a trade blacklist last month, placing restrictions on the Chinese telecommunications equipment provider's ability to purchase hardware, software and services from American hi-tech suppliers.

Sun Hung Kai Properties executive director Christopher Kwok Kai-wang, meanwhile, said the new extradition law will not affect the company's business and SHKP would continue to invest in the mainland and Hong Kong.

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