Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) has acquired Y5Zone, a wholesale provider of Wi-Fi wireless broadband services, which operates 6,500 Wi-Fi hotspots in Hong Kong and more than 600 in selected cities in mainland China. As reported by the South China Morning Post, HKBN plans to spend HKD200 million (USD26 million) to expand its Wi-Fi coverage across Hong Kong to 15,000 hotspots over the next 18 months, while also upgrading all Wi-Fi access speeds to 1Gbps from 100Mbps. Fibre broadband operator HKBN declined to provide the cost of the takeover but disclosed that Y5Zone’s owner was paid in stock.
Prior to its acquisition, Y5Zone provided wholesale Wi-Fi network capacity to cellcos including SmarTone, CSL and China Mobile Hong Kong, while other operators resold the Wi-Fi connectivity of Y5Zone to end users, with these including HKBN itself, cableco i-Cable and fixed/mobile operator Hutchison (3). HKBN says it has already signed up one mobile operator to a ten-year contract for Wi-Fi mobile backhaul services.
Y5Zone’s main rival is integrated telco PCCW which operates about 10,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in Hong Kong.