SmarTone launches 5G with 70% population coverage

Hong Kong’s smallest mobile operator SmarTone kicked off 5G service, highlighting it was the first in the territory to deploy spectrum sharing technology, enabling dynamic sharing of 4G and 5G frequencies.

The operator didn’t disclose the number of 5G-compatible 5G base stations deployed, but CTO Stephen Chau (pictured, second left) said it had 70 per cent population coverage at launch and targeted citywide coverage by mid-2021.

The launch follows HKT, 3 Hong Kong and China Mobile Hong Kong introducing 5G services on 1 April, the day the regulator released 3.5GHz spectrum. All four acquired 200MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum for HKD1 billion ($129 million) in mid-October 2019.

Multi-band approach
In a statement, SmarTone said it adopted an integrated approach combining high-, mid- and low-spectrum bands to build a robust network, with 3.5GHz spectrum to be progressively deployed across the territory.

It also has 20MHz of 3.3GHz airwaves and 400MHz of spectrum in the 26GHz and 28GHz bands.

SmarTone CEO Anna Yip (pictured, far right) said 5G will benefit both consumers and enterprises, and will be one of the key enablers for Hong Kong’s smart city development. She claimed its 5G network offered the widest network coverage both indoors and outdoors, and it introduced a range of services and applications for different customer segments and enterprises.

The operator welcomed the Office of the Communications Authority’s subsidy scheme introduced in early May to encourage the rollout of 5G services, noting it will help accelerate enterprises’ 5G deployment plans.

In March, it named Ericsson as its sole supplier for 5G gear, which follows it awarding the vendor a five-year contract for all core and radio access network equipment in November 2016.

For HKD398 per month, the operator offers customers 80GB of data, 2GB of Greater Bay Area roaming data with a China mobile number, and additional SIM cards if needed.