Boston, MA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 03/18/2014 -- Hong Kong has many positive characteristics including a comparatively high purchasing power, a business-friendly environment and was the first to launch a commercial LTE network in Asia. Mobile subscriber numbers have long passed the 200% penetration mark and the latest data from operators and the regulator show continued growth, and data suggests this rate is slowing down further, prompting a downgrade in our forecast. 3G and 4G however, are the key drivers of growth, outperforming our expectations for the year. Fixed lines continue to post declines at a more rapid pace, although IP lines are a bright spot for the industry.
- Mobile subscriptions continued to grow in 9M13 despite the high penetration rate. We forecast 18.787mn mobile subscribers by the end of our five-year forecast in 2017, a 253% penetration rate, although this is a downgrade to our previous forecast following sluggish growth in the first nine months of the year.
- Full-year data from the regulator for broadband subscriber numbers saw further declines which were unexpected. We believe it will return to growth over the course of our forecast period to 2.5mn broadband subscribers by 2017.
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Hong Kong remains in fourth position in BMI's Asia Pacific Telecoms Risk/Reward Ratings with a telecoms rating score of 65.9, slightly lower than the previous quarter.
Key Trends And Developments
In November 2013, OFCA announced its intention to launch a hybrid administratively assigned/marketbased approach to re-assign 118.4MHz of paired 3G spectrum in the 1,900MHz-2.2GHz band, which has been idle since 2001. The approach will offer each of the four current 3G mobile operators the right of first refusal of 19.8MHz of the spectrum, with the remaining frequencies to be tendered through an auction to be opened to all interested parties and scheduled for Q414. SmarTone has already expressed its disappointment with the decision, arguing it does not benefit consumers. China Mobile is reportedly aiming to acquire 3G spectrum in Hong Kong.
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