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Hutchison plans bid for fixed-line license
Hutchison Macau (HM) said its number of users recorded a slight increase after the CTM network blackout earlier this month and HM is planning to bid for a fixed-line telecommunication network license.
Speaking on the sidelines of a press spring luncheon, HM Chief Executive Officer Ho Wai Ming said the CTM network breakdown did not have much influence on HM, but that the company had received many inquiries about its telecom services, and there was a slight increase of new users afterwards. But the incident on the whole did not have much impact on HM, except some internet users complained of slower surfing speeding during the six-hour blackout on February 6.
Asked if HM would follow SmarTone’s example of considering possible claims against CTM, Ho said they were not doing so, but he did not rule out the possibility that some individual users would take legal action. “There could be such isolated cases,” he said.
Ho said HM was interested in joining the competition should the authorities open up the fixed line market. He said they had already sent letters to the authorities requesting bidding details and would make a final decision afterwards.
But Ho said he could not give a precise timeline because they were yet to clarify many details on leasing and using the fixed-line network facilities, including the prices for using wire conduits. In addition, new operators have to lay the network lines and guarantee the designated coverage within 18 months. Ho conceded that the schedule is too tight for them.
He welcomed the market opening initiative, saying it would result in more competition and a decrease in telecom service prices. However, he would not speculate on the scale of the deduction, only stressing that HM expected to have a larger share of the market.
“The most important thing is to ensure that the competition is fair,” he said, “and the prices would fall naturally.” He also expected HM’s 3G business to benefit from the new competition.
Regarding the impending upgrade of mobile phone services from 2G to 3G in July, Ho stressed that over 90 percent of their current users are 3G users. The operator is confident that they should see a smooth transition.
Hutchison is launching a new plan that cost only MOP 30-40 each month and user-friendly 3G handsets to help 2G users, most of them senior citizens, to adjust to the upgrade.
But Ho was tight-lipped about the company’s 2011 results, stressing that the media had to wait until the company make an official announcement.
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