Wireless personal communications technologies are about to enter their second decisive stage of development. Stage one was incremental, supplementing wireline communications networks. Stage two is radical, offering both synergy and substitution, and heralds a third, revolutionary stage in which all that is fixed becomes mobile. Stage two will be one of transition from an environment of limited bandwidths and small but rapidly growing markets, to a world of re-usable and re-assignable spectrum interconnecting with broadband networks for a mass market.
Regulating the transition is a controversial process. Spectrum is regarded as a scarce resource which requires careful management in the public interest, yet Hong Kong policy moves in the direction of market solutions. The regulator is therefore required to perform a balancing act between the interests of different parties: the existing wireline and wireless operators, the new entrants, future new entrants, existing customers and future customers, and Hong Kong’s reputation as a progressive free market.