Mobile operators in Hong Kong each acquired 50 megahertz of 3.5GHz spectrum in the first of three 5G auctions, raising a total of HKD1.006 billion ($128 million), the Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) reported.

“Four bidders, namely China Mobile Hong Kong Company Limited (CMHK), Hong Kong Telecommunications (HKT) Limited (HKT), Hutchison Telephone Company Limited (HTCL) and SmarTone Mobile Communications Limited (SmarTone) took part in the 3.5 GHz band auction. The auction came to a satisfactory conclusion after completion of the quantity phase and the assignment phase on October 14,” a spokesman for OFCA said.

China Mobile Hong Kong paid out HKD 300 million, HKT and SmarTone each spent HKD 252 million, while Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong paid HKD 202 million.

OFCA said the successful bidders are required to pay spectrum utilisation fees and submit performance bonds by January 14, 2020, to guarantee compliance with the network and service rollout requirement.

The local telecom regulator also said that the assignment of the spectrum will take effect on April 1 2020 and be valid for 15 years.

“We are pleased that, as a result of rational biddings, HKT is able to obtain 50MHz of contiguous spectrum at a price that is beneficial to the industry as well as the mobile users,” HKT said in a statement.

HKT, which is the largest telco in the market, said it will launch commercial 5G services in the second quarter of next year, “when the necessary ecosystem is in place”.

Meawhile, SmarTone said it will launch commercial 5G services soon after the 3.5GHz frequency band is made available.

With the completion of the process to award spectrum in the 3.5GHz band, the next steps will be auctions covering the 4.9GHz and 3.3GHz bands, with the reserve price per MHz set at HKD3 million and HKD2 million respectively.

Hong Kong’s second largest mobile operator 3 Hutchison,, did not submit an application for spectrum in the 26GHz and 28GHz bands.

“The spectrum can be used from April 2019 onwards for deployment of 5G services to provide high-capacity transmission at both outdoor and indoor locations of high traffic demand. As the total amount of spectrum to be assigned accounts for less than 75% of the total available spectrum supply in the 26/28 GHz bands, the assignees do not need to pay any utilisation free for the use of the spectrum,” a spokesman of Hong Kong’s Communications Authority (CA) previously said.

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