A staff member tests the speed with a Huawei 5G mobile phone at Huawei 5G Innovation and Experience Center in London, Britain, on Jan. 28, 2020. (Xinhua/Han Yan)

Providing 5G network coverage to the whole city would cost MOP3 bln – CE

Providing 5G network coverage to the whole city would cost some MOP3 billion (US$375.7 million) due to the large number of base stations that need be installed, according to Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng.

“Coverage rates are very limited when comparing with previous networks which only required one base station in a building to cover a large area. However, 5G requires a larger number of network terminals. Maybe the government will have to create a new public company to conduct these works,” the CE indicated while responding to questions from legislators yesterday (Tuesday) concerning the Policy Address for the Fiscal Year 2021 at the Legislative Assembly

“After this issue is solved we will have to define which assets belong to the government, only then we can move with the second phase. But 5G has many applications and will be much faster with many applications for medicine and industry”

In July the CEO of local telecom provider Companhia de Telecomunicacoes de Macau (CTM), Vandy Poon, indicated that the firm was ready to launch 5G services as soon as the local government awards operating licences.

The company had indicated that it had completed the deployment of a network with full outdoor coverage and planned to complete indoor coverage by the end of the year.

Completing the first phase of the network development was said to have cost over MOP600 million to CTM but would make Macau the first city in Asia to have full 5G outdoor coverage.

However local authorities have still to advance with a legislative framework to regulate the future network, with Ho Iat Seng indicating that a bill will be submitted to the AL but without providing a timeline for it.

The 2021 policy address document only indicates that the Macau government will accelerate the construction of the 5G network and big data centers, and will create conditions for the development of the digital economy and governance, tourism, border crossings, means of transport and intelligent health care.

Ho Iat Seng also revealed that difficulties raised in fully implementing the ‘Smart City’ development project signed with Chinese tech giant Alibaba, with discussions having already taken place with the group to discuss how to proceed with the plan’s next steps.

In 2017, local authorities signed a four-year partnership agreement with the Alibaba Group to help Macau transform itself into a ‘smart city’ via cloud-computing technology in two phases, the first having been completed last year.

The first phase included collaboration on cloud computing, smart transportation, smart tourism, smart healthcare, and smart city governance, as well as talent development.

The second phase, running from July 2019 to June 2021, includes the use of the data collected, coupled with Alibaba’s Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Deep Learning systems ‘to create vast improvements in the city’s environment, Customs clearance, and financial forecasting.’ 

“I had a meeting with Alibaba over the problems and difficulties there were to completely implement [the Smart City] project. Lately, we have already produced a list with the issues we discuss so we can proceed with the respective adjustments and solutions. When the contract was signed, the content was simpler, but now we need to perfect the agreement. Secretary for Administration and Justice André Cheong will follow this matter,” Ho indicated.