Mark Carrel -

3 Hong Kong gears up for 5G with “epic” transformation

The Hong Kong telco is putting in an advanced technical architecture that will streamline and automate internal processes and IT as it prepares for the 5G era

Hong Kong telecoms operator 3 Hong Kong is embarking on what it calls an “epic” digital transformation project in a bid to automate its business processes and optimise customer experiences as it gears up to deliver 5G mobile services.

Slated for completion by 2020, the project will cover key areas such as customer relationship management (CRM), omni-channel marketing, order management, business workflows, e-commerce, data analytics and cyber security.

Besides enabling 3 Hong Kong to respond to demand for digital services, the project is expected to speed up the time it takes to design, test and launch new services, simplify business processes, improve compliance and drive new business opportunities.

Underpinning the digital transformation initiative is an advanced technical architecture, which the telco said will “transform business operations and support systems necessary for 3 Hong Kong to attain higher levels of customer interaction”.

Cliff Woo, executive director and CEO of Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong Holdings, the parent company of 3 Hong Kong, said the move towards 5G has prompted telcos to transform their IT infrastructure and operations for a competitive market.

“Transforming into a digital telco is necessary in order to enrich the customer experience and drive subscribership and revenue growth, as customers increasingly become digital citizens in the way they tackle everyday life,” Woo added. “And 3 Hong Kong will be well-positioned to capitalise on the new digital internet economy, as it emerges.”

3 Hong Kong will work with Tech Mahindra to roll out the project, while Matrixx Software, Salesforce and Vlocity will supply cloud services that offer e-commerce and omni-channel CRM capabilities.

In May 2018, 3 Hong Kong received a temporary permit from Hong Kong’s Communications Authority (CA) to conduct 5G network trials in the 26 GHz and 28 GHz bands from the third quarter this year.

Unlike some markets like the UK, Hong Kong is not planning for 5G spectrum auctions as it has more than enough spectrum in the 26 GHz and 28 GHz bands to meet the requirements of operators.

“We consider it appropriate to assign the spectrum concerned administratively,” a CA spokesman said recently, noting that there is also unlikely to be competing demands for spectrum in the two bands.

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Although the CA’s approach towards spectrum allocation could lower 5G deployment costs, Anil Rao, principal analyst at Analysys Mason, noted that telcos – amid efforts to transform digitally – remain constrained by prevalent operating models.

He called on telcos to gear up for a software-driven operations model that not only supports today’s physical networks, but also adapts to the transition towards hybrid and virtual networks.

“The new operations model must be underpinned by highly automated processes, enabled by analytics-powered operations software, and supported by a workforce with the software skills to continuously enhance operational efficiency,” he said.

This will enable telcos to automatically pre-empt and tackle service quality issues before they occur, he added.

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