​5G won’t snatch regulatory prerogative from Hong Kong’s telecoms watchdog, chairwoman says

24 May 2019 00:00 by Xu Yuan

The application of 5G technology in sectors other than telecommunications won’t result in regulatory issues being beyond the purview of Hong Kong’s communications watchdog, its chairwoman says.

“I don’t think we will consider that the technology and the shaping of it will take this outside the ability or purview of the [Communications] Authority in a way that would leave it to be tackled by some other authority,” Chairwoman Winne Tam of the Communications Authority told an antitrust conference today in Hong Kong.

Tam was answering a question on whether the development of fifth-generation mobile technology, which not only facilitates superior and added functionality among mobile devices but also the entire Internet of Things, would mean that related competition issues would slip beyond the authority of the telecoms regulator because 5G involves a wide range of sectors, including logistics, medical devices and driverless cars.

“The nature of the licensing work remains exactly the same,” Tam said. “So, as a regulatory body, we do not see a radical change in the nature of our work.”

She conceded that enforcing competition law could be “very different” in the context of 5G. "But we are confident the Communications Authority does have the expertise and the commitment to deal with these new issues," she said.

“But we will certainly be benefiting in terms of knowledge [and] expertise from whichever organizations that we would like to seek help from and to seek exchanges of knowledge in order to be better equipped to handle regulatory matters,” Tam added.

Hong Kong’s Communications Authority has concurrent jurisdiction with the city’s Competition Commission, and ordinarily takes a lead role in antitrust enforcement in the telecommunications sector.

Tam said the two regulators enjoyed very close cooperation and expected such arrangements to continue unless there were "very good reasons" otherwise.

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