Govt to issue tenders for remote Lantau broadband

The Hong Kong government will issue tenders for the construction of fibre links to 45 Lantau villages – part of a new scheme to provide faster rural internet across Hong Kong.

Network operators will have to commit to building fibre connections to villages that will enable download speeds of at least 25 Mbps.

Within each village, residents will connect to the fibre backbone via the existing copper network using DSL technology. Currently PCCW’s combined fibre/DSL service offers downlinks of up 100Mbps.

The scheme to subsidise internet service was foreshadowed in Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s policy address last October.

It is a major departure from the government’s longstanding policy of leaving the telecom industry solely to the commercial operators.

The city is near the top of the world broadband rankings, but 170,000 people have a home or small business internet with download speed of less than 10Mbps.

The plan to bridge the city’s digital divide will not happen quickly, however.

Telecom regulator Ofca says services won’t start rolling out until 2021 at the earliest.

It will start discussions on funding with the Legco IT and Broadcasting Panel next month, the regulator said in a paper to the Islands District Council.

But it does not say how much it will seek for the subsidised rollout.

Ofca says 67 villages in the Islands District qualify for the programme.

Under the tender structure, they will be combined into six different project areas. Operators will be asked to bid on the six projects.

They will be assessed on on the speed of rollout, system design, pricing and the funding required.

According to Ofca, fibre backbones reach all of South Lantau’s major villages except Tai O

But 32 villages on South Lantau and 13 in the Tung Chung area have no fibre connections and will qualify for the scheme. They are:

MUI WO: Man Kok Tsui, Ngau Kwu Long, Pak Mong, Tai Ho, Wang Tong, Tung Wan Tau

SOUTH LANTAU/PUI O: Mong Tung Wan, San Shek Wan, Shap Long, Tai Long Wan

TAI O: Fan Lau, Kit Hing Back St, Kit Hing St, Lower Keung Shan, Upper Keung Shan, Luk Wu, Leung Uk,Nam Tong Sun Tsuen, Ngong Ping, San Tau, Sha Lo Wan, Sham Shek, Shek Tsai Po (East & West), Tai Long Wan, Tai O Outskirts, Tai O, Yi O

TUNG CHUNG: Chek Lap Kok New Village, Lam Che, Nim Yuen, Ma Wan New Village, Ma Wan Chung, Mok Ka, Ngau Au Village, Pa Mei, Shek Lau Po, Sheung Ling Pei, Tai Po, Tei Tung Tsai, Wong Nai Uk

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