(Xinhua/Wang Xiao)

Legislator slams gov’t for delayed 5G license issuance

*By Therese Tu

Legislator Leong Sun Lok has called for the government to speed up the issuance work of 5G network license and telecommunications law, and to expand the geographical applicable scope of the free public Wi-Fi service to the whole city.

Local telecommunication company CTM declared earlier this month that the 5G network has been fully operational with the ability to cover the entire territory of Macau.

However, CTM stressed that they have not obtained the necessary operating license from the government, due to “considerable delay” caused by the “modernization of the legal and regulatory framework”, which includes the revision of the local telecommunications law.

Regarding the long-delayed 5G license issuance, Legislator Leong Sun Iok criticised the government’s low efficiency in handling public services and contracts over the years, in an interview with the Chinese-language newspaper Citizen Daily.

The legislator stressed that “fast and stable” 5G network is the essential foundation, for building a smart city that uses electronic technologies to govern the city and provide digital services to the public.

However, the speed and stability of Macau’s internet network have been problematic during the past few years, with social development being hindered by the delay of 5G network implementation, Leong indicated, with Macau remaining the only Chinese region without 5G services.

The legislator urged the SAR government to speed up the issuance of 5G license and telecommunication law, as the delay in implementation has caused a negative impact on Macau to connect with cities in the Greater Bay Area which all have “entered the 5G era”.

Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng revealed during his policy address that the local government will issue the first 5G licenses in 2022, with a new Telecommunications Law – which will cover a convergence license to telecommunications operators – to advance in the second half of 2023.

Leong said the Telecommunication Law may not be able to be handed over to the Legislative Assembly in the short-term, as the current progress is still slow.

Meanwhile, he also suggested that the government should widen the geographical coverage of “FreeWiFi.MO” to the entire city, if the cost is “controllable”.

“FreeWiFi.MO” is provided by Macau Post and Telecommunications (CTT) with some local organizations to offer free Wi-Fi services for the citizens and tourists at different locations in the SAR.

Leong pointed out that after the launch of “FreeWiFi.MO” service in 2010, the public has always complained about the insufficient geographical coverage and network stability of the “FreeWiFi.MO” service.

Although the government has been increasing the number of “FreeWiFi.MO” service sites in recent years, the service is still insufficient compared to other tourist cities in the world, the legislator indicated.

Leong said that the free Wi-Fi service is very important for satisfying the need of the tourists, and Macau as a city that heavily relies on tourism should be able to provide a city-wide free public Wi-Fi coverage.

Also, he emphasized that the government should provide clear reasons to the public if they can’t achieve this goal, and clarify whether it’s due to cost or technology problems.