Telecom & Wireless

Hong Kong's Unified Carrier Licensing Nears Completion

Hong Kong will create the Unified Carrier License as a single licensing vehicle for fixed, mobile and converged services.

Subject to vetting of the amendment regulations by Hong Kong's Legislative Council, this license scheme still needs to jump through more hoops before becoming operational.

In a prepared statement, a spokesperson said, "One salient feature of the UCL is that a new annual number fee component will be applied. This measure is necessary as it should provide the necessary economic incentive to encourage operators to better utilize the numbering resource. Based on the current pace of number consumption, if we do not take the necessary preventive actions, the remaining capacity of the 8-digit numbering plan will be exhausted within seven years and we will have to migrate to 9 or 10-digit numbering plan. Since the use of longer digits will have significant adverse impact to the community, we consider it necessary to adopt both economic and administrative measures in order to prolong the life-span of the 8-digit numbering plan. We are pleased that both the Hong Kong Consumer Council and the Hong Kong Telecommunications Users Group, which represent the general consumers and the business sector respectively, are supportive of the measure."

The distinction between fixed and mobile networks and services is becoming increasingly blurred due to market and technology developments. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as "Fixed-Mobile Convergence", and the new UCL regime will enable facility-based operators to provide different services under a single and flexible licensing framework, thereby paving the way for FMC.

To cater for the burgeoning growth of the mobile services, Hong Kong will start allocating numbers with prefix-5 for the services later this month.

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