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Amendment order seeks to facilitate efficient use of radio spectrum

The Telecommunications (Telecommunications Apparatus) (Exemption from Licensing) (Amendment) Order 2012 under the Telecommunications Ordinance was published in the Gazette today (December 21). The amendment order seeks to facilitate the most economically and socially efficient use of radio spectrum by withdrawing the licensing exemptions granted to persons in respect of Personal Handy Phone System (PHS) apparatus operating within the 1895-1906.1 MHz band.

"Radio spectrum is a scarce public resource and it is our policy objective to facilitate the most efficient use of it. The radio spectrum concerned is currently not used efficiently. By withdrawing the licensing exemptions, the spectrum concerned can be made available for other communications applications in a timely manner in order to meet the increasing public demand for mobile communications services.

"This is conducive to the development of a vibrant communications market, which will in turn bring benefits to businesses and consumers in Hong Kong," a spokesman for the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said today.

PHS, a short- and medium-range mobile radiocommunications technology, was introduced in 1997 for private use only, predominantly for home cordless telephones. However, a market survey conducted in September 2010 by the former Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) found that no PHS apparatus was found to be on sale in the local market. Since 2002, the former OFTA, or now the Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA), has not received any application for certification of PHS apparatus under its voluntary certification scheme. The former OFTA and OFCA has also monitored the radio spectrum utilisation from time to time and confirmed that there is scant deployment of PHS apparatus in Hong Kong.

"Having regard to the above findings that suggest the radio spectrum concerned is not efficiently used, we consider that the allocation of the frequency for PHS apparatus should be withdrawn," the spokesman said.

"However, in order to mitigate the possible impact on existing users, we recommend that the licensing exemptions in respect of establishment or maintenance and possession or use of the PHS apparatus should only cease three years from the date of commencement of the amendment order," he said.

The spokesman added that the licensing exemptions in respect of dealing in the course of trade or business, demonstration with a view to sale, and import or export of such PHS apparatus would however cease immediately upon the commencement of the amendment order.

The amendment order will be tabled at the Legislative Council on January 9, and it is expected to commence operation in the second quarter of 2013.

Friday, December 21, 2012