Over 160 Hong Kong villages now connected to high-speed fibre networks

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14th April 2024 – (Hong Kong) In an era where digital connectivity is nearly as essential as electricity, Hong Kong’s remote villages have long been left in the technological shadows. Recognising this gap, the Hong Kong Government launched a significant initiative in 2018 – the Subsidy Scheme to Extend Fibre-based Networks to Villages in Remote Areas. This scheme, orchestrated by the Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA), aims to usher the rural reaches of the New Territories and outlying islands into the digital age.

To date, the initiative has successfully connected over 160 villages, out of a targeted 235, to high-speed fibre networks. This transformation is palpable in villages like Tai O, where residents previously grappled with sluggish internet speeds of merely eight megabits per second shared amongst the community. Today, they revel in speeds that soar to 1,000 megabits per second, enhancing everything from daily communications to digital commerce.

Cheung Chi-ming, a local merchant in Tai O, reflects on the transformation. “The days of asking customers to patiently wait while transactions buffered are behind us,” he says, highlighting how reliable internet has streamlined digital payments and online business operations.

The educational sector in these villages has also witnessed a digital revolution. In Mui Wo, for instance, the local school now enjoys stable internet, facilitating innovative teaching approaches. Henry Wong, a teacher at the school, shares his enthusiasm: “We can now integrate interactive online games into our lessons, which not only breaks the monotony but also actively engages the students in their learning process.”

Moreover, the introduction of advanced technologies like smart rope skipping machines in schools underscores the broader implications of reliable broadband. These tools not only enhance physical education but also instill a spirit of healthy competition among students, all facilitated by seamless digital connectivity.

Christine Chim, OFCA’s Head of Market & Competition, explains the scope of this ambitious project. “Extending fibre networks to these remote areas has involved complex engineering challenges, including undersea cabling and navigating country parks without direct road access,” she states. Despite these challenges, the project is set to reach its completion in 2026, ultimately benefiting around 110,000 rural residents.