Hong Kong: OFTA Issues Consultation Paper On The Creation Of A Class Licence For The Provision Of Public Wireless Local Area Network Services, and Announces a Proposed Exemption From Licensing for "Private" Telecommunications
Most Read Contributor in Hong Kong, September 2016
Written by David Ellis (partner) and Stephen Bureaux
On 2 August 2002, the Office of the Telecommunications Authority
("OFTA") issued a Consultation Paper inviting public
views regarding the creation of a Class Licence for the provision
of wireless Local Area Networks ("LANs") to the public in
Once a Class Licence is created providers of wireless LAN
services to the public will not need their own licence, provided
that they operate within the conditions of the Class Licence.
The Class Licence scheme is intended to cover the provision of
telecommunications services, the impact of which does not warrant
detailed monitoring and licensing by OFTA. The Class Licences are
designed to provide a framework of conditions and requirements for
the provision of a particular service, which enables any person who
meets the requirements to offer the service without seeking an
individual licence from the Telecommunications Authority
("TA"), subject only to the adherence to the conditions.
The power given under Section 7B(2) of the Telecommunications
Ordinance (the "Ordinance") enables the TA to create
Class Licenses without legislative approval, subject only to prior
consultation with the public.
The proposed Class Licence for the provision of public wireless
LAN services is intended to cover the wireless LANs which have
recently become popular to enable office and single premises
computer networks to operate without wiring. There are, as
mentioned above, a number of proposed requirements a provider of
such service must meet in order to obtain the benefit of the Class
Licence, and proposed conditions which must be followed in the
provision of the services. These include (though are not limited
to) limitations on the range of the wireless network, a prohibition
against the equipment causing interference to individually licensed
services, a similar requirement that the apparatus used must be
able to tolerate interference from other similar apparatus, a
bandwidth limitation, a requirement to provide the services in a
satisfactory manner, and a requirement to publish tariffs.
Interested parties are invited by the Telecommunications
Authority to comment on the proposal, prior to finalisation of the
licence. The deadline for any such comments is 15 September
OFTA have also announced along with the new Class Licence, a new
generally applicable exemption arrangement will come into force
whereby any person or persons who possess, use, establish or
maintain any telecommunications apparatus (who under Section
8(1)(b) of the Ordinance would otherwise require a licence) will be
exempted from the requirement for a licence so long as they do not
make use of the apparatus to provide a public telecommunications
service (i.e. a service to third parties as opposed to for example
a company's own employees). Previous experience in dealing with
licence applications had shown that OFTA has applied such an
exemption unofficially in the past, however, it is only now being
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