In Blog, Podcasts

Interviewee:
Agnes Wong, Director-General of Communications, Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA), Hong Kong SAR China.

What you will learn in this audio cast (15 min 44 sec):

What regulatory toolkit keeps a highly dynamic market highly dynamic?

Hong Kong may well be the world’s most competitive marketplace. According to the Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA), in 2018 there were four mobile network operators, 27 local fixed network operators, 241 external fixed network operators, and 249 Internet service providers in the territory. With one of the most advanced and sophisticated communications infrastructure worldwide, household broadband and mobile penetration are extremely high in this market

Among the most definable characteristics of regulation in this marketplace is that it is, by design, light touch. However, this catch-all term is probably not the complete explanation: Hong Kong’s regulatory toolkit is operationally both extensive and highly nuanced. It mainly adopts ex post-regulatory approach, consumer protection and a particularly extensive consultation process with both the industry and the general public. This consultation process is debatably one of the most intensive and interactive in the world. OFCA also collaborates with the industry to implement self-regulatory measures to better safeguard consumers’ interests.

The challenge is multifaceted and, arguably, needs to serve a variety of stakeholders. OFCA sees itself as a regulator, but also as a facilitator of industry progress in Hong Kong, as well as an agency of consumer protection.

This audiocast, recorded in Hong Kong, examines the nature of this regulatory activity and balance, discusses spectrum management in the 5G rollout, and subsidy programs for extension of fiber-based networks to villages in remote areas.

Topics covered include:

  • The pro-competition and light-handed regulatory approaches in Hong Kong
  • Toolkit available to the regulator
  • Interactive consultation process with both the industry and the general public
  • Self-regulatory schemes to safeguard consumer interests, e.g., the Customer Complaint Settlement Scheme
  • Spectrum allocation for 5G service rollout
  • Subsidy scheme for extension of fiber-based networks to villages in remote areas
  • The regulator as facilitator

Agnes Wong
Director General of Communications

Agnes Wong took up the post of Director-General of Communications for the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in August 2017.

As the Director-General of Communications, Ms. Wong heads the Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA), the executive arm of the Communications Authority (CA), and is an ex-officio member of the CA.

The CA is an independent statutory body and the regulator for both telecommunications and broadcasting sectors in Hong Kong.

Ms. Wong provides support to the CA in the exercise of the CA’s statutory functions under the Telecommunications Ordinance, Broadcasting Ordinance, Broadcasting (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance and Unsolicited Electronic Messages Ordinance (UEMO).  These mainly cover licensing matters for both the telecommunications and the broadcasting sectors, management of radio spectrum, enforcement of the provisions safeguarding fair competition and UEMO, as well as giving advice to the government regarding telecommunications and broadcasting matters.

Ms. Wong is also appointed as the Director of Films, Newspapers and Articles Administration, and is responsible for enforcing the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance (COIAO), along with overseeing the work pursuant to COIAO, while acting as the Film Censorship Authority, and the registrar of newspapers.

Before taking up her current post, Ms. Wong was the Deputy Secretary for Transport and Housing (Housing)/Deputy Director of Housing (Strategy) from October 2012 to July 2017.