Review on the Access Fees Charged by Government for Installation
of Radiocommunications Equipment at Government Tunnels

Given the high and increasing mobile penetration rate (51 mobile telephones per 100 people) in Hong Kong, mobile telecommunications have now become an essential public service to consumers and the community. We have therefore decided that it will be in the public interest to have a policy that helps to ensure ubiquitous coverage for mobile telecommunications services in Hong Kong. To lend support to our policy objective and to facilitate extension of mobile network operators' network coverage, the Administration has conducted a review on the charges for installation of radiocommunications equipment at government tunnels, premises and land. We have recently completed the review on access charges for government tunnels and decided to set new access fees based on a full-cost recovery approach.

2. The new access fees for installation of radiocommunications equipment at government tunnels will seek to recover the government's administrative costs for processing the applications. With effect from 1 October 1999, the access fee for a new agreement is $10,400 per month, and the fee for a renewed agreement is $8,450 per month, for a term of three years (compared to the range of $22,500 to $98,000 per month under the existing market rent approach).

3. As explained at the Bills Committee meeting on 30 September 1999, we draw a distinction between government's cost-based approach in setting access fees at government tunnels and the setting of access fees for private tunnels. In the Telecommunications (Amendment) Bill, we have proposed that the Telecommunications Authority may determine a fair and reasonable fee if mobile operators and private tunnel operators fail to reach a commercial agreement. Moreover, the TA may only intervene only if the public interest test is met under new section 14(1B)(a) and the factors under new section 14(1B)(b), such as the availability of alternative sites, have been taken into account. As to the level of fees to be charged, the TA has undertaken at the Bills Committee to conduct public consultation on the charging principles for determining access fees to shielded areas (including private tunnels and shopping malls) and will formulate clear guidelines on how he will make such a determination.

4. As regards access fees to government land and buildings, we are also conducting a review adopting a similar cost-based approach. Given the variety of land and buildings involved, we need to take more time in collating and examining the cost data. We will keep Members informed of the new access fees in due course.

Information Technology and Broadcasting Bureau
4 October 1999