This information note serves to help consumers for an informed choice of legitimate Wi-Fi devices for use in Hong Kong.

New Wi-Fi 6E Devices

Wi-Fi devices are conventionally operating in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands1 based on the IEEE 802.11 series of standards. In particular, those in compliance with the IEEE 802.11n, 802.11ac and 802.11ax standards are commonly known as Wi-Fi 4, Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 devices respectively. Recently, a new class of Wi-Fi devices, namely Wi-Fi 6E, generally emerges in the market. While Wi-Fi 6E is also based on the IEEE 802.11ax standard, it is capable of operating in a new frequency band of 5.925 – 7.125 GHz (“the 6 GHz band”) in addition to the conventional 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. In this regard, consumers should note that only those Wi-Fi 6E devices operating within the lower part of the 6 GHz band (i.e. the 5.925 – 6.425 GHz band, hereinafter referred to as “the designated 6 GHz band”) are permitted for use in Hong Kong.

Licensing Requirements of Wi-Fi Devices

Persons who are in possession, use and sale of Wi-Fi devices operating in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands are exempted from obtaining a telecommunications licence, subject to meeting the stipulated requirements under the law2. Pursuant to the Class Licence for 6 GHz Device (“the Device Class Licence”) created by the Communications Authority (“CA”), any person might also possess, use and sell Wi-Fi 6E devices operating within the designated 6 GHz band, subject to fulfilment of the conditions of the Device Class Licence. As far as users are concerned, the Device Class Licence for Wi-Fi 6E devices and licence-exemption for Wi-Fi devices achieve the same effect, i.e. users do not need to individually apply for a telecommunications licence and no licence fee would be incurred, for use of compliant Wi-Fi devices. The licensing requirements for Wi-Fi devices are summarised below -

2.4 GHz band 5 GHz bands 5.925 – 6.425 GHz
(the designated
6 GHz band)
6.425 – 7.125 GHz
Wi-Fi 4 exempted from licensing exempted from licensing frequency band not supported frequency band not supported
Wi-Fi 5 frequency band not supported exempted from licensing frequency band not supported frequency band not supported
Wi-Fi 6 exempted from licensing exempted from licensing frequency band not supported frequency band not supported
Wi-Fi 6E exempted from licensing exempted from licensing covered under the device class licence not permitted in hong kong

Legend:

blue tick Exempted from licensing
yellow tick Covered under the Device Class Licence
red cross Not permitted in Hong Kong
dash Frequency band not supported

Table 1: Licensing requirements of Wi-Fi devices in Hong Kong

Not All Wi-Fi 6E Devices are Permitted in Hong Kong

At present, some economies, including Canada and the United States, allow Wi-Fi 6E devices to operate in the entire 6 GHz band rather than limited to operate within the designated 6 GHz band. It should be noted that the CA is considering the identification of the upper part of the 6 GHz band, i.e. the 6.425 – 7.125 GHz band or parts thereof, for public mobile (including 5G) services. In this regard, Wi-Fi 6E devices capable of operating outside the designated 6 GHz band, i.e. in the 6.425 – 7.125 GHz band or parts thereof, are not covered by the Device Class Licence and are not permitted for use in Hong Kong to avoid radio interference with other radiocommunications services to be licensed in the future.

Certification and Labelling of Wi-Fi Devices

Wi-Fi devices generally fall under two categories – access points3 and client devices4. All Wi-Fi devices are required to comply with the technical specifications prescribed by the CA, in particular, they cannot operate in the 6.425 – 7.125 GHz band. Under the Device Class Licence, certification of Wi-Fi 6E access points against the relevant technical specifications and affixing the label prescribed by the CA (“CA label”) on certified Wi-Fi 6E access points offered for sale in Hong Kong are compulsory requirements. Such requirements aim to deter the supply and use of non-compliant Wi-Fi 6E access points, which may cause radio interference to other legitimate radiocommunications services in Hong Kong.

Since Wi-Fi 6E client devices generally operate under the control of and at lower power than access points, they are less likely to cause radio interference to other legitimate services. Thus, certification and labelling of Wi-Fi 6E client devices remains voluntary, following the same current practice for Wi-Fi 4, Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 devices.

Certification and Labelling of
Access Points
Certification and Labelling of
Client Devices
Wi-Fi 4, 5, 6 devices Voluntary Voluntary
Wi-Fi 6E devices
Compulsory
Voluntary

Table 2: Certification and labelling requirements of Wi-Fi devices

Look for the CA Label when Buying Wi-Fi 6E Access Points

Consumers shall purchase Wi-Fi 6E access points bearing the CA label either affixed on the device or its packing as per sample below.
ca label

On the other hand, as the certification and labelling of Wi-Fi 4, Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 devices (both access points and client devices) as well as Wi-Fi 6E client devices (not Wi-Fi 6E access points) are voluntary, such devices may or may not bear the CA label. Nevertheless, consumers are encouraged to purchase Wi-Fi devices which have been certified to comply with the relevant technical specifications and may therefore be used legally in Hong Kong. A list of certified equipment models is available on the OFCA website.

Do Not Bring Back Wi-Fi 6E Access Points from Overseas to Hong Kong

Consumers are strongly reminded not to bring back Wi-Fi 6E access points to Hong Kong from overseas (such as the United States and Canada), particularly those that operate in the 6.425 – 7.125 GHz band, and do not meet the technical specifications and requirements adopted in Hong Kong. Pursuant to the Telecommunications Ordinance (Cap. 106), possession or use of unauthorised radiocommunications equipment not meeting prescribed technical specifications and requirements will be liable to a maximum penalty of HK$50,000 fine and 2-year imprisonment.