Leading Hong Kong telco SmarTone has officially launched a 5G service, claiming to offer the territory’s widest network coverage to spearhead smart city development.
With operating subsidiaries in Hong Kong and Macau, SmarTone Telecommunications Holdings provides voice, multimedia and mobile broadband services, as well as fixed fibre broadband services for the consumer and corporate markets. With the roll-out of the 5G service in Hong Kong, SmarTone says it is adopting an integrated approach of combining high-, mid- and low-spectrum bands to build a “robust and industry-leading” 5G network.
Riding on its existing LTE infrastructure, the network will be progressively deployed across the territory and the operator is confident that with 3.5GHz spectrum, it can also provide ample capacity and support to the 5G applications that require high bandwidth. In the initial stage, SmarTone’s 5G network will cover outdoor locations, popular indoor locations and major roads and highways for commuting customers.
The operator says 5G unleashes the possibilities for enterprises with its fast speed, low latency and massive connectivity and it has been collaborating with application partners and startups to co-create the 5G ecosystem. To foster innovation, SmarTone launched the Innovation Hub in early 2017 and organised the SmarTone Hackathon themed 5G and Smart City.
Among the key use cases that SmarTone believes the 5G infrastructure will support are advanced videoconferencing, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). It believes 5G will support smooth and stable videoconferencing for mobile office, face-to-face social networking, and e-learning for students. SmarTone has also been working with enterprises from construction, healthcare, hospitality, property management, retail and transportation for 5G digital transformation.
“SmarTone is thrilled to mark a new milestone for the Hong Kong telecom industry and brings the best 5G network experience to consumers in Hong Kong,” said SmarTone CEO Anna Yip. “We see limitless potential for 5G with its blazing-fast speed and super-low latency. 5G will benefit both consumers and enterprises and will be one of the key enablers for Hong Kong’s smart city development.”
With 5G, SmarTone says that on construction sites, site managers and architects will be able to use building information modelling (BIM) to view three-dimensional models with rich digital content, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) for accessing data-intensive edge and cloud applications, and computer aided design (CAD) to monitor and manage real-time site operations. 5G-assisted AR that combines virtual architectural designs with the physical reality of a job site can also increase accuracy and efficiency, it says.
The deployment also sees SmarTone become the first mobile operator in Asia to deploy Ericsson Spectrum Sharing technology to enable both 4G and 5G to be deployed in the same band and on the same radio through a software upgrade. Spectrum is allocated dynamically on user demand on a one millisecond basis. The new technology also allows for the use of existing Ericsson Radio System infrastructure, and is the most economically feasible way to deploy 5G on existing bands, says SmarTone.
The project builds on an existing 28-year relationship and in March 2020, Ericsson and SmarTone announced a five-year contract for the deployment of 5G. Ericsson is the sole supplier of SmarTone’s 4G network and will continue as its sole 5G supplier.
As well as the dynamic sharing technology, the deal includes Ericsson’s Dual-Mode 5G Core, enabling SmarTone to launch services and run operations through a cloud-native system combining Evolved Packet Core (EPC) and 5G Core architectures. Ericsson says will enable SmarTone to extract more business value out of its network.