Telecom & Wireless

"Unified Carrier Licence" Proposed For Hong Kong

Hong Kong's government is inviting public views on the proposed introduction of a Unified Carrier Licence, a new licensing method to pave the way for fixed-mobile convergence in the telecommunications sector.

A spokesman for the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said in a prepared statement, "With market and technological development, distinctions between fixed and mobile networks and services are increasingly blurred. To ensure our regulatory environment remains conducive to innovative technologies and services, we see it opportune to create a new unified licensing regime to facilitate timely deployment of new and innovative telecommunications services in Hong Kong for the benefit of the public. The UCL will allow incumbent operators and new market entrants to provide fixed, mobile and/or converged services under a streamlined and flexible single license with common rights and obligations, irrespective of the types of services provided by the

licensees."

The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development also issued a consultation paper setting out the proposal to introduce UCL. Under the proposal, the UCL will be the single licensing vehicle regulating all kinds of fixed, mobile and converged telecommunications services. It will replace the four existing types of carrier licenses — fixed carrier license, fixed carrier (restricted) license, mobile carrier license and mobile carrier (restricted) license– upon expiry, and be issued to new applicants. Existing operators may also apply to convert their relevant licenses to UCL on a voluntary basis before the expiry of their licenses.

The consultation paper proposes that the period of validity for the UCL should be 15 years, the same as the existing carrier

licenses. It also proposes to align the level of license fees to recover the cost of the Telecommunications Authority for administering the licenses and to encourage the efficient use of telephone numbers by the operators.

The Telecommunications Authority has issued in parallel a separate consultation paper covering the special conditions to be attached to the UCL, the approaches for granting UCL under different scenarios and the migration arrangement of existing licenses to UCL. The Telecommunications Authority has also addressed in the consultation paper the issues related to the granting of UCL to replace the four fixed telecommunications network service/fixed carrier licenses which will expire in June, 2010.

The consultation exercise will last for two months until February 20, 2008.

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