- On 14 February, the Chief Executive in Council (CE in C) accepted the recommendations made by the Communications Authority (CA) on the mid-term review of free television and sound broadcasting licences, with a view to encouraging further investment in the industry, and optimising and updating the programme requirements for promoting continuously the development of the broadcasting industry.
- Since 24 February, real-name registration for SIM cards had been fully implemented. All SIM cards shall have registration completed for service activation or continued use. All unregistered existing pre-paid SIM cards were deactivated.
- In February, the CA granted approval for Fantastic Television Limited ("Fantastic TV") to use spectrum, on top of fixed network, for transmission of its domestic free television programme (free TV) service. Fantastic TV commenced using spectrum to transmit two existing TV programme channels on 1 April and launched a new TV programme channel on 21 November.
- From 1 March, all new SIM cards issued by telecommunications operators in Hong Kong which are used for person-to-person communications in Hong Kong shall undergo real-name registration before use.
- In April, the CA created a new class licence for regulating the use of and trade in 6 GHz devices operating in 5925 – 6425 MHz band for Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) and varied the existing class licence for provision of public WLAN services.
- In June, the CA assigned 70 MHz of new 5G spectrum in the 700 MHz band (low-frequency band) in accordance with the results of spectrum auction concluded in October 2021. The superb radio propagation characteristics of the 700 MHz band would enable operators to enhance indoor and outdoor mobile coverage in a very cost effective manner.
- On 24 June, new amendments to the Telecommunications Ordinance came into operation so as to keep the telecommunications regulatory framework updated with the latest developments to facilitate the sustainable development of the telecommunications industry.
- To mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR, CGTN Documentary and Radio The Greater Bay under the China Media Group were officially launched in Hong Kong on 1 July through Radio Television Hong Kong.
- In March, the CA and Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (SCED) decided to make available further 220 MHz of new spectrum in the low and mid-frequency bands (600 MHz, 700 MHz and 4.9 GHz bands) to the market for the deployment of the 5G mobile services.
- The Telecommunications (Registration of SIM Cards) Regulation took effect on 1 September to implement the Real-name Registration Programme.
- In September, a new submarine cable system named Hainan to Hong Kong Express was brought into service in Hong Kong.
- In October, the CA successfully completed the auctions of a total 255 MHz of 5G spectrum in the 600 MHz, 700 MHz, 850 MHz, 2.5/2.6 GHz and 4.9 GHz bands.
- In October, the CA supported the Government to complete the review of the telecommunications regulatory framework under the Telecommunications Ordinance and the related legislative amendments.
- In November, the CA successfully completed the two-month public consultation exercise for the mid-term review of free television and sound broadcasting licences and received around 460 submissions from the public. The CA will, taking into account the public views received, make recommendations regarding licence conditions and service requirements for the remaining period of the licences for consideration by the CE in C.
- On 1 December, six digital television programme channels broadcast on new transmitting frequencies in the 500 MHz band, with a view to releasing spectrum in the 600/700 MHz bands for the provision of high value-added mobile telecommunications services, including 5G services.
- In April, 5G services were officially launched in Hong Kong to bring more innovative communications services and applications to consumers.
- In November, the Government launched the emergency alert system (EAS) in Hong Kong. With the use of cell broadcast technology, the EAS enabled the Government to disseminate time-critical important notices and messages to mobile service users via mobile networks in emergency situations.
- On 1 December, Hong Kong entered an era of full digital television broadcasting following the switching off of analogue television services on 30 November.
- In April, the CA assigned a total of 1 200 MHz of spectrum in the 26 GHz and 28 GHz bands to three incumbent mobile network operators, namely China Mobile Hong Kong Company Limited, Hong Kong Telecommunications (HKT) Limited and SmarTone Mobile Communications Limited for the provision of 5G services. This was the first batch of 5G spectrum assigned.
- In April, the CA announced its decision to accept the commitments offered by the merging parties in relation to the proposed acquisition of WTT Holding Corp. by HKBN Ltd., and not to commence an investigation on the proposed transaction under the Competition Ordinance. The acquisition was subsequently completed within the month.
- In July, the CA created a new Localised Wireless Broadband Service Licence for the administrative assignment of up to 400 MHz of spectrum in the 26 GHz and 28 GHz bands on a geographically sharing basis to facilitate the development of innovative wireless communications services based on 5G or other advanced mobile technologies.
- The CA successfully completed the auctions of a total of 380 MHz of 5G spectrum in the 3.3 GHz, 3.5 GHz and 4.9 GHz bands in October and November. The spectrum were acquired by four incumbent mobile network operators at total spectrum utilization fees of HK$1.9 billion for a term of 15 years starting from December 2019 for the 3.3 GHz and 4.9 GHz bands spectrum and April 2020 for the 3.5 GHz band spectrum.
- In June, the CA set out the regulatory and licensing regime to make available 580 MHz of spectrum in the 5 GHz band (consisting of four sub-bands of frequencies in 5150 – 5250 MHz, 5250 – 5350 MHz, 5470 – 5725 MHz, and 5725 – 5850 MHz) for the provision of public mobile services on a shared basis.
- Having taken into account the views collected through consultation with the industry and the public, the CA decided to relax the regulation of indirect advertising in television programme services with effect from 27 July 2018.
- In December, the CA and SCED decided after public consultations the arrangements to make available a total of about 4 500 MHz of spectrum in various frequency bands (3.3 GHz, 3.5 GHz, 4.9 GHz, as well as 26 GHz and 28 GHz bands) to the market for the deployment of 5G mobile services. The spectrum will be assigned by batches in 2019 through a mix of administratively-assigned and market-based approaches.
- In December, an auction for the re-assignment of a total of 120 MHz of paired spectrum in the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands was successfully completed with the spectrum acquired by four incumbent spectrum assignees at total spectrum utilization fees of HK$6 billion for a term of 15 years, starting from January 2021 for the 900 MHz band spectrum and September 2021 for the 1800 MHz band spectrum.
- On 14 May, Fantastic TV launched its free television programme service (“free TV”) service.
- In July, numbers with leading digits '4', '7' and '8' started to be allocated for mobile services.
- In October, Asia Cube Global Communications Limited, a private investment firm, acquired the entire equity interests in Hutchison Global Communications Limited, a major fixed network operator in Hong Kong.
- In December, a new submarine cable system namely Asia Africa Europe-1 was brought into service in Hong Kong.
- Taking into account the outcome of two rounds of public consultation and the findings of a technical consultancy study, the CA announced its decision in December to adopt a hybrid administratively-assigned cum auction approach to re-assign the 200 MHz of spectrum in the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands upon expiry of the existing assignment terms between 2020 and 2021.
- In December, the CA created a new Wireless Internet of Things (WIoT) Licence for the provision of WIoT platforms and services using the shared frequency band of 920 – 925 MHz with a view to facilitating the development of Internet of Things (IoT) and various smart city applications in Hong Kong.
- In March, HKBN Ltd., the holding company of Hong Kong Broadband Network Limited, completed the acquisition of New World Telecommunications Limited.
- In March, the CE in C accepted the recommendations submitted by the CA and approved the applications for the renewal of the analogue sound broadcasting licences of Hong Kong Commercial Broadcasting Company Limited and Metro Broadcast Corporation Limited for a validity period of 12 years from 26 August 2016 to 25 August 2028.
- On 31 March, HKTVE launched its free TV service.
- ATV ceased to provide free TV service on 2 April.
- In May, the CE in C accepted the recommendation submitted by the CA and formally granted a free TV licence to Fantastic TV, following the grant of approval-in-principle back in October 2013. Fantastic TV’s licence is valid for 12 years from 31 May 2016 to 30 May 2028.
- Having taken into account the outcome of a public consultation, the CA decided in June to implement five measures in three phases to meet the persistently high demand for mobile numbers through more efficient utilisation of the 8-digit numbering plan. As a result, the life span of the 8-digit numbering plan was expected to be extended by around 10 years to 2029.
- In October, a new submarine cable system namely Asia Pacific Gateway was brought into service in Hong Kong.
- On 22 October, the re-assignment of a total of 118.4 MHz paired spectrum in the 1.9 – 2.2 GHz band took effect at 00 hours with spectrum handover among mobile network operators successfully and seamlessly completed.
- In November, two private investment firms, namely MPK Partners and TPG, acquired the entire equity interests in Wharf T&T Limited, a major fixed network operator in Hong Kong.
- In December, the CE in C accepted the recommendation submitted by the CA and approved the application for the renewal of the domestic pay television programme service (“pay TV”) licence of Hong Kong Cable Television Limited ("HKCTV") for a validity period of 12 years from 1 June 2017 to 31 May 20291.
- In April, the CE in C accepted the recommendation submitted by the CA and decided not to renew the free TV licence of ATV and to extend the term of its licence to 1 April 2016.
- The CE in C formally granted a free TV licence to HK Television Entertainment Company Limited (HKTVE), following the grant of approval-in-principle back in October 2013. HKTVE’s licence is valid for 12 years from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2027.
- In May, the telecommunications industry commenced the implementation of Customer Complaint Settlement Scheme on a long term basis.
- In May, the CE in C accepted the recommendation submitted by the CA and approved the application for the renewal of the free TV licence of TVB for a validity period of 12 years from 1 December 2015 to 30 November 2027.
- On 14 December, the Competition Ordinance (Cap. 619) came into full effect. The CA is conferred concurrent jurisdiction with the Competition Commission to enforce the Competition Ordinance in respect of the conduct of certain undertakings operating in the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors.
- In May, HKT Limited completed acquisition of CSL New World Mobility Limited.
- The regulatory guidance on the charging principles of narrowband interconnection between fixed carriers was withdrawn from October, pursuant to the decision taken by the CA in April 2013 to phase out the concerned guidance after an 18-month transitional period.
- In December, an auction for the re-assignment of a total of 49.2 MHz of paired spectrum in the 1.9 – 2.2 GHz band was successfully completed with the spectrum acquired by two incumbent assignees and a non-incumbent assignee at total spectrum utilization fees of HK$2.42 billion for a term of 15 years starting from October 2016.
- In December, the CE in C accepted the recommendation submitted by the CA and approved the application for renewal of the pay TV licence of PCCW Media Limited for a validity period of 12 years from 26 September 2015 to 25 September 2027.
- In February, a new submarine cable system namely Asia Submarine-Cable Express was brought into service in Hong Kong.
- In March, four existing mobile network operators successfully bid for a total of 50 MHz of radio spectrum in the 2.5/2.6 GHz band at a total sum of spectrum utilization fees of HK$1.54 billion.
- In June, a new submarine cable system namely South-East Asia Japan Cable System was brought into service in Hong Kong.
- To enhance protection for consumers, a set of legislative amendments to the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (Cap. 362) came into effect on 19 July. The CA is conferred concurrent jurisdiction with the Customs & Excise Department to enforce the new fair trading provisions in the broadcasting and telecommunications sectors.
- By September, the two domestic free TV licensees, namely Asia Television Limited (ATV) and Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), brought the overall digital terrestrial television coverage to at least 99% of the Hong Kong population, which was on a par with that of analogue television services.
- Taking into account the outcome of two rounds of public consultation and the findings of a consultancy study, the CA decided in November to adopt a hybrid administratively assigned cum auction approach to re-assign the 118.4 MHz of paired spectrum in the 1.9 – 2.2 GHz band upon expiry of the assignment term in October 2016.
- In February, two existing mobile network operators and one new entrant successfully bid for a total of 90 MHz of radio spectrum in the 2.3 GHz band at a total sum of spectrum utilization fees of HK$470 million.
- The CA and the Office of the Communications Authority were established on 1 April.
- In August, the CE in C accepted the recommendation submitted by the former Broadcasting Authority and approved the application for the renewal of the pay TV licence of TVB Network Vision Limited (TVBNV) (formerly known as TVB Pay Vision Limited) for a validity period of 12 years from 23 February 2013 to 22 February 20252.
- Customer Complaint Settlement Scheme was launched in November for a trial period of two years by the telecommunications industry aiming at resolving billing disputes in deadlock between the telecommunications service providers and their residential/personal customers.
1In February 2023, the CE in C accepted the recommendation submitted by the CA and approved the application of HKCTV for termination of its pay TV licence with effect from 1 June 2023.
2In April 2017, the CE in C accepted the recommendation submitted by the CA and approved the application of TVBNV for termination of its pay TV licence with effect from 1 June 2017.
Disclaimer: The Government of HKSAR and OFCA accept no liability for error or omission of the above content.