Hong Kong is likely to join the ranks of the early adopters of 5G, according to Hutchison Telecom.
Cliff Woo, CEO of Hutchison Telecommunications (Hong Kong) Ltd. , expects the first 5G services in the city by 2020.
"According to what the experts have said the standard will only be finalized in late 2018 or early 2019," he told Light Reading.
"We have to take the final product/spec for manufacturing, including the chipset and handset, so that will take another 12 months," he says. "So we think probably the year 2020."
He is hopeful that the regulator Ofca will open up 3.5GHz spectrum for 5G, although authorities are also looking at the 26GHz and 28GHz bands.
A growing list of countries are targeting a 2020 launch of the next-generation mobile technology, led by South Korea, Japan, China and the US.
Hong Kong was one of the first countries to roll out 4G, with the initial services deployed in November 2010.
Hutchison and vendor Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. today announced network upgrades that will help pave the way to 5G.
By year end, the operator plans to deploy a technology called "five carrier component aggregation" (or 5CC), which can support a notional 1.2Gbit/s downlink. The solution combines spectrum in the 1800MHz, 2.1GHz and 2.6GHz FDD (frequency division duplex) bands with two carriers in the 2.3GHz TDD (time division duplex) band.
It will roll out four-carrier aggregation in the middle of the year, saying this will enable to it deliver up to 500 Mbit/s per user.
Woo says the operator is also testing out another technology called 128 x 128 Massive MIMO. A field trial in the Causeway Bay shopping district, using 2.3GHz TDD spectrum, yielded a sixfold increase in throughput. This will be expanded into other high-traffic areas by the end of 2017, Woo says.
The cost of the upgrades will "not be significant," he insists, and will be included in the company's existing 2017/18 capex budget of HK$500-600 million ($39-47 million).
— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading