ISPs compensate for Internet tariffs
LOCAL Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are restructuring their prices in the wake of the Government's decision to make payments of tariffs compulsory for all Internet access in the territory.
Two of Hong Kong's largest ISPs announced new price structures in a bid to remain competitive, despite the extra cost to consumers of $5.40 an hour posed by the payment of Public Non-exclusive Telecommunications Service (PNETS) fees.
A new ISP has also come up with a scheme it hopes to use to bypass paying PNETS charges completely. Hong Kong Star Internet last week announced that from December 1 it would only charge its users a flat fee of $168 a month for which users would have 'no time limit'.
The PNETS fee payable to Hongkong Telephone will be charged on top of that.
Hong Kong Star said its move was to protest against Hongkong Telecom's 'unfair monopoly' and to express disappointment with the Office of the Telecommunications Authority [OFTA] 'for allowing Hongkong Telecom to collect PNETS surcharges on Internet services'.
In a controversial move last weekend, OFTA announced that all ISPs were subject to PNETS regulations and had to pay related surcharges to Hongkong Telephone.
World-Wide Web access, previously excluded from the surcharges, was included in the new ruling.
Another local ISP, Asia On-line, also changed its price structure last week, coming up with four price plans instead of the previous one.
The new plans offered users a greater degree of flexibility, according to the company.
In the meantime, some Internet users were surprised last week while trying to access a page on the World-Wide Web with the universal resource locator (URL) http://hktel.com which seemed to indicate it was a Hongkong Telecom home page.
Instead, they were greeted with the page of an ISP calling itself Man Bond Engineering, which was offering Net access without the PNETS charges.
Man Bond offers its users the chance to 'buy 1,000 shares' in the company for a refundable deposit of $2,000, which it believes will make it a closed user group and thus not subject to PNETS charges.