Co-written by Stephen Bureaux (solicitor)
On 11 October 2002, the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) issued the first of the class licences envisaged by the Telecommunication (Amendment) Ordinance 2000, for In-building Telecommunications Systems.
The issue of the Class Licence comes following the required process of consultation which took place in March/April 2002. In order to fall within the ambit of the Class Licence the proposed operator must comply with various conditions and fulfil certain requirements, some of which are summarised below.
An in-building telecommunications system can be a wireline or wireless system which is installed inside a building (or buildings within the same development) for providing telecommunications services to the residents. This, the first of the class licences, is intended to encourage and enable "intelligent buildings" through which residents gain access to enhanced technological resources from their own premises. Perhaps the most significant of the requirements is that the in-building telecommunications system operator must be the property owner, an incorporated ownership company, a owners' trustee, or an entity specifically authorised by owners of the building who own not less than 50% of the property.
The types of telecommunications services that may be provided under the Class Licence include:
- Access to enable public telecommunications or broadcasting operators to interconnect with the systems and provide services to the building residents. This would include telecommunications and broadcasting services such as broadband and pay TV services.
- All forms of intra-building telecommunications and broadcasting services to the residents and occupiers. Internet services may not be offered so that the services cannot be accessible from outside the building (i.e. there must be no outgoing connection).
The operator must offer non-discriminatory interconnection access to other telecommunications operators. OFTA has the power to determine fees for interconnection in the event that negotiations between the operators fail.
Finally, it should be noted that the Class Licence or the operation of any services under the Class Licence, do not affect the existing rights of the Local Fixed Telecommunications Network Services Operators to gain access to building to install their own equipment to reach the building's residents.
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