Hong Kong telco eyes up UK wireless broadband

Summary:Pacific Century CyberWorks is poised to bid for Britain's 3.4GHz wireless space, but is it playing by the rules?

A Hong Kong-based telecoms firm could soon win control of the UK's 3.4GHz spectrum.

Senior Pacific Century CyberWorks revealed this week that it is considering bidding for 15 regional licences that would allow it to operate wireless broadband services at 3.4GHz across the UK.

"At this stage we are evaluating the opportunity, but no decision has been made," Martin O'Connor, PCCW chief communications officer told the South China Morning Post at the weekend. He added that PCCW has already submitted an application for the forthcoming 3.4GHz auction.

However, possible irregularities over Pacific Century CyberWorks' (PCCW) application could hamper its participation in the auction, ZDNet UK has learned.

The Radiocommunications Agency (RA), which will conduct the controversial auction, last month revealed that 26 companies that had applied to take part. PCCW is not included in the RA's list, but 15 of the names released by the RA have aroused suspicion as they do not appear to refer to known telecoms firms.

It appears that these 15 names are recently created subsidiaries of PCCW, which said it plans to bid for each of the 15 regional licences on offer.

According to government sources, who have confirmed that all 15 applicants are part of one single company, this approach may not be acceptable to the RA as it could give an unfair advantage. PCCW could not immediately be reached for comment.

Each company taking part in the auction will get three "time-outs", which it can use to suspend bidding for a certain licence until the next day. A company with 15 subsidiaries bidding would conceivably be able to halt proceedings 45 times.

The RA is currently assessing the suitability of every company that has applied to take part in the auction. According to informed sources there is "a bit of concern" within the government over PCCW's application, and the company may have to reapply.

A decision should be made before the end of next week.

Seven of the 15 licences on offer cover metropolitan areas within the UK mainland, and seven cover rural areas. The 15th covers Northern Ireland.


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Topics: Networking

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