Report on HKT briefing

Yesterday (October 14th) the Islands Broadband Concern Group attended an informal background briefing from HKT’s Netvigator engineering and marketing teams on the islands broadband services. During the briefing there was a sense that we are pushing at a slightly open door, and that within HKT there is an awareness of a need to deliver the kind of service customers on the islands today expect. But bear in mind that their internal process as well as any future network upgrade will take time. The IBCG's own efforts to get improvements to remote areas broadband will also take time. This is just an early step and there are quite a few more people and organisations we need to talk to.


The good news:
* The HKT team has already started work on draft plans to invest fairly widely in broadband fibre on the Outlying Islands. This enhanced network wouldn’t cover all households, but if it comes to to fruition it should be a good result for most Islands residents.

* We received a clear understanding of the network technologies and topology. No great surprises:  HKT is providing broadband via ADSL access on the islands, using fibre backhaul (ie, the offshore links) in every case except Lamma, which is served via microwave.

* The HKT team agreed to treat as a priority those customers with persistent broadband service problems, which we agreed to define as no service or unstable service for two weeks or more.

* HKT is keen to receive feedback from our Members and are open to further dialogue.

The less good news:
* As can be inferred from the above, the fibre upgrades for the remote areas of Hong Kong as announced by HKT back in August are just “plans” and require a series of approvals both internal (commercial) and governmental (planning etc) backed by political will. Whatever happens this will take some time.

* At this point Lamma Island’s backhaul microwave link is literally the weakest link. There is no HKT high-capacity fibre connection to Hong Kong island.

While Lamma has similar fixed-line ADSL broadband infrastructure as the other islands, its offshore link comprises multiple microwave connections to Hong Kong Island that have only a fraction of the capacity of fibre cable and are subject to rainfade.

For signal interference reasons, the HKT engineers explained that, they could only deploy a limited number of additional microwave links and the number of technically feasible microwave links is almost maxed out. The installation of fibre cable under the Lamma Channel appears to be well down the list of priorities.

WHAT WE CAN DO
Most immediately, both HKT and the Islands Broadband Concern Group need to further demonstrate the high level of demand from the island communities for high-speed fibre standard services and how much people (customers) would be willing to pay for them.

FOR THOSE WITH PERSISTENT BROADBAND FAULTS
The HKT execs attending the briefing (at least those not directly involved in providing end-user customer service) appeared taken aback by some of the customer broadband experiences, especially those complaints from commercially impacted professional “home office” users.

The HKT team committed to addressing the persistent issues that they would be escalated and treated as priority.  Let’s see if that’s the case.

If your service has not been working effectively for two weeks or more, please email (with as much detail as possible) to islandsbroadband@gmail.com and encourage others to do likewise

We will pass the results to HKT’s Customer Experience team and seek a further meeting to review the outcome of this feedback exercise.

Islands Broadband Concern Group, October 15th 2015
Convener, Robert Clark

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