Framework for development of Hong Kong's mobile TV announced

Monday, December 22nd, 2008
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The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau (CEDB) today announced the implementation framework for the development of mobile television (TV) services in Hong Kong.

Speaking at a press conference to announce the details of the framework, the Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (Communications and Technology), Mr Duncan Pescod, said: “Taking into account the outcome of the consultation exercises in 2007 and 2008 and in accordance with the market-led, technology-neutral and facilitating regulatory approach, we have mapped out the implementation framework for mobile TV service.”

“The framework aims to create an enabling environment that promotes innovation, investment and competition of local mobile TV services for the benefit of consumers, ” Mr Pescod said.

The introduction of broadcast-type mobile TV services requires additional frequency spectrum. Under the implementation framework, the Telecommunications Authority will allocate one frequency multiplex in UHF Band and two in Band III for the purpose by auction.

“Prospective operators will be subject to the payment of a spectrum utilisation fee also determined by auction. This is in line with our established spectrum policy framework which has provided a fair and efficient way in assigning spectrum based on the market-based approach,” Mr Pescod said.

“We will adopt a ‘pro-mobile TV’ approach whereby successful bidders will be required to use at least half of the transmission capacity for the provision of mobile TV services while the remaining capacity can be used to provide other non-mobile TV services, such as digital audio broadcasting or datacasting.

“The prospective local broadcast-type mobile TV service is a nascent and relatively personal service. A light-handed approach would be adopted in regulating the content of mobile TV services by general law,” he explained.

“We will also require the operators to develop codes of practice for self-regulation and will monitor the situation closely.”

Other telecommunications or value-added services including digital audio broadcasting services, if provided alongside mobile TV services, shall continue to be subject to the relevant existing licensing regime.

On geographical coverage of the provision of broadcast-type mobile TV services, a baseline coverage requirement of 50% of the population will be imposed taking into account the scarcity of frequencies for such services. It will be secured by means of performance bonds to be imposed upon the prospective mobile TV operators.

“Mobile TV exemplifies the technological advancement and media convergence. The market worldwide has called for timely response from governments and regulators to facilitate the launch and growth of this innovative service. We aim to auction the relevant frequency spectrum in 2009, ” Mr Pescod said.

The Government conducted two rounds of public consultation on the development of mobile TV services in Hong Kong in 2007 and 2008. The community and the broadcasting and telecommunications industries were generally supportive of the proposed framework.

Currently, the 2.5G and 3G mobile telecommunications platforms allow operators to deliver audio-visual content on demand through streaming technologies. Internationally, communications operators have been working to provide point-to-multipoint services that can deliver audio-visual content to a critical mass of viewers, which is known as “broadcast-type mobile TV”.