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File ref. : ITBB CR 7/5/14 (98)

LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL BRIEF

Telecommunication Ordinance
(Chapter 106)

TELECOMMUNICATION (MOBILE EARTH STATIONS) (EXEMPTION) ORDER

INTRODUCTION

spacer fileAt the meeting of the Executive Council on 8 September 1998, the Council ADVISED and the Chief Executive ORDERED that the Telecommunication (Mobile Earth Stations) (Exemption) Order at the Annex should be made under section 39(1) of the Telecommunication Ordinance, to grant exemption in respect of the possession, establishment, maintenance, use, import and export of mobile earth stations.

BACKGROUND AND ARGUMENT

General Background

2.spacer fileMobile satellite services are radiocommunication services provided between mobile earth stations (MESs) and other MESs or terrestrial public switched telephone networks by means of one or more space stations (i.e. radiocommunication stations on board satellites). A MES can be a hand-held, low-power portable unit, a transportable terminal to be used during halts at unspecified points, or a terminal installed in a vehicle, on board a ship or an aircraft.

3.spacer fileUnder the World Trade Organisation (WTO) General Agreement on Trade in Services, Hong Kong, China has committed to liberalising a number of international telecommunications services, including mobile satellite services. The commitments on basic telecommunications services have come into effect since 5 February 1998. As a signatory to the International Telecommunication Union Memorandum of Understanding to Facilitate Arrangements for Global Mobile Personal Communications by Satellite, Including Regional Systems (GMPCS-MoU), the Office of the Telecommunications Authority has agreed to co-operate in facilitating the licensing of terminals based on general licences and exempting terminals from customs restrictions during transit.

4.spacer fileUnder section 8(1) of the Ordinance, a person needs to obtain a licence granted either by the Chief Executive in Council or the Telecommunications Authority (TA) for the possession, establishment, maintenance or use of any radiocommunication apparatus within Hong Kong or on board a ship or an aircraft registered in Hong Kong.

5.spacer fileCurrently, the TA may issue under the Telecommunication Regulation a Self-Provided External Telecommunication System (SPETS) licence for the possession, establishment, maintenance and use of a satellite terminal for communications with a place outside Hong Kong. The SPETS licence was drawn up primarily for fixed or transportable satellite terminals which would emit significant radiation and hence would require complicated frequency co-ordination with neighbouring regions in order to avoid radio interference. Such licence is not considered appropriate for MES because -

  1. individual licences need to be issued for what will eventually develop into a mass market product; and

  2. the initial and annual licence fees have been set at a level to recover the cost of frequency co-ordination with neighbouring administrations. This co-ordination is unnecessary for these MESs, which do not emit significant radiation, so the fee structure is inappropriate.

Proposed Licensing Framework for Mobile Earth Stations

6.spacer fileWe propose to implement a licensing framework for MESs that will facilitate the free circulation and use of such devices in Hong Kong by exempting a person from the obligations to hold a licence or permit for possessing a MES; establishing, maintaining or using a low-power MES; and importing into or exporting from Hong Kong a MES or any of its components.

7.spacer fileWe do not propose to grant exemption in respect of the establishment, maintenance or use of high-power MESs because these terminals may emit significant radiation. We expect that there will be few cases of using high-power MESs in Hong Kong. In such cases, the person will need to apply to the TA for a SPETS (Short Term) licence which will permit him to operate and use the MES for a period up to three months. This will allow the TA to exercise appropriate regulatory control. If the person wishes to use his high-power MES for a longer period, he will need to apply for a SPETS licence.

THE ORDER

8.spacer fileSection 39(1) of the Ordinance provides that the Chief Executive in Council may by order exempt any person or any class of persons from the Ordinance or from such provisions thereof as he thinks fit. Section 2 of the Order exempts a person from the obligation to hold a licence or permit under the Ordinance in respect of -

  1. the possession of a MES;

  2. the establishment, maintenance or use of a low-power MES (the parameters of such MES are set out in the Schedule to the Order); and

  3. the import into or export from Hong Kong of a MES or any of its components.

LEGISLATIVE TIMETABLE

9.spacer fileThe legislative timetable will be -

Publication in the Gazette11 September 1998
Tabling at the Legislative Council16 September 1998

HUMAN RIGHTS IMPLICATIONS

10.spacer fileThe Department of Justice advises that the Order has no human rights implications.

BINDING EFFECT OF THE ORDER

11.spacer fileSection 3 of the Ordinance provides that "Save as otherwise expressly provided, this Ordinance does not bind the State or apply to any means of telecommunication established or maintained by the State or to any apparatus for telecommunication possessed or used by the State for the purpose of or in connection with any such means of telecommunication". Sections 8 and 9 of the Ordinance are not expressed to bind the State. Accordingly, the Order does not affect the State.

FINANCIAL AND STAFFING IMPLICATIONS

12.spacer fileThere are no financial and staffing implications.

ECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS

13.spacer fileThe proposal will be conducive to the development of mobile satellite services in Hong Kong and enhance Hong Kong's position as a telecommunications centre.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPLICATIONS

14.spacer fileThere are no environmental implications.

PUBLIC CONSULTATION

15.spacer fileThe technical parameters for classifying low-power MES, as set out in the Schedule to the Order, have been endorsed by the Radio Spectrum Advisory Committee and the Telecommunications Standard Advisory Committee of the Office of the TA.

PUBLICITY

16.spacer fileA Legislative Council brief and a press release will be issued when the Order is gazetted on 11 September.

Information Technology and Broadcasting Bureau
Government Secretariat

11 September 1998