HK preps for 5G future

August 10, 2019

The fifth generation (5G) mobile network is an important telecommunications infrastructure in Hong Kong and has immense potential for various business services and smart city applications.

The Government is fully aware of the importance of 5G and its role in facilitating smart city development in Hong Kong. Apart from the assignment of the spectrum in 26 GHz and 28 GHz bands to three mobile network operators in March, the Office of the Communications Authority will soon begin auctions of the spectrum in the 3.3 GHz, 3.5 GHz and 4.9 GHz bands to prepare for the commercial launch of 5G services and applications in 2020.


Tech trials

The Hong Kong Applied Science & Technology Research Institute recently received the green light from the Transport Department to conduct an autonomous vehicle trial at the Science Park to facilitate the system’s awareness monitoring within the 5G networks and to initiate research on related technologies.


The institute’s Communications Technologies Senior Manager Vincent Hou said the institute has designed multiple testing scenarios and will submit the results to the Transport Department.


“The first scenario is without pedestrians to see whether the autonomous vehicle will be able to recognise the road line, for example, the pedestrian lines on the road. Regardless of if there is a pedestrian crossing the road, the autonomous vehicle is supposed to slow down and stop in front of the pedestrian road. Another scenario assumes there is a pedestrian that just jumps out on to the road or walks along the road and how the autonomous vehicle is going to react to that scenario.”


Smart city infrastructure

The Government and the Communications Authority are promoting 5G developments in Hong Kong on various fronts, from the supply of the spectrum, the support for technical trials to the implementation of measures to assist operators in extending the 5G network.


Office of the Communications Authority Assistant Director (Regulatory) Sanda Cheuk noted the Government has proactively prepared the groundwork for the launch of 5G networks and services.


“The Government launched a pilot scheme in March this year. Such that about 1,000 government premises will be opened up for applications by mobile network operators. This would definitely help their fast rollout of 5G networks in Hong Kong. This year, the Government will make available a total of 4,500 MHz of spectrum for 5G services. Taking into account the time needed to implement the 5G networks, we expect to have 5G services rolled out and fully launched in Hong Kong in 2020.”


New capabilities

The enhanced 5G mobile broadband significantly surpasses 4G in terms of download and upload speeds. The 5G peak download speed is 20 gigabits per second, which is 10 to 20 times faster than 4G.


For example, downloading a two-hour HD film typically takes about three minutes on the current 4G network, but it should take a mere 10 seconds or less to download the same movie using 5G.


5G also has a minimum latency requirement. Latency refers to the time lapse between when the cell tower sends data and when the destination device - like your mobile phone - receives it. 5G requires a minimum latency of just four milliseconds which could drop as low as one millisecond for some forms of communication, particularly ultra-reliable and low-latency communications.


Another related development from 5G will be the enabling of massive machine type communications, which allows more devices to connect to the network within a small area, for example, as many as one million devices per square kilometre.


Compared to 4G, 5G will revolutionise the mobile user experience by its far more enhanced technical capabilities in terms of data rate, latency, reliability and massive device connectivity, which open up huge potential for commercial services and smart city applications.

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