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Hong Kong Telecoms Regulator Won't Rein In VoIP Services

by Mary Swire, for LawAndTax-News.com, Hong Kong

15 September 2004


Speaking during a recent visit to Germany, the director general of Hong Kong's Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) announced that the regulatory body would not be seeking to interfere overmuch in the development of the burgeoning Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) industry.

Au Man-ho was responding to a drive by incumbent telecommunications provider, PCCW to thwart the growth of the industry.

Following the launch of a VoIP service by City Telecom, PCCW lodged a complaint with OFTA, and then wrote to its 750,000 broadband subscribers, warning them that the installation of VoIP software could reduce the quality of their broadband service.

According to the South China Morning Post, the OFTA director general told those attending the presentation at which he was a guest speaker that the Authority was not interested in imposing arbitrary regulations, and suggested that:

"The pace of transition to IP-based services should be decided by the market."

However, he went on to observe that "if the IP telephony service is to be marketed as a substitute for public telephone service, there may be some minimum conditions that need to be satisfied to prevent consumer confusion and safeguard public interest".

Meanwhile, in a statement, City Telecom's wholly-owned subsidiary, Hong Kong Broadband Network Limited observed that:

"As the telecom hub of Asia, Hong Kong is renowned for its leadership in the deployment of advanced and new technologies. As Voice-Over-Internet- Protocol (VOIP) is a global trend, we urge the Hong Kong telecom industry as a whole to uphold our joint responsibility to propel this technology advancement for the benefit of the Hong Kong community."

"For the betterment of Hong Kong, HKBN is of the view that the development of VOIP cannot, and should not be retarded. We wish that the Hong Kong industry can work together and embrace this global challenge rather then hide in the comfort of legacy business models."

It concluded:

"To remain as the telecom hub of Asia, Hong Kong cannot afford for VOIP to be delayed as international competition for VOIP is looming."


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