Phoning from HK cheapest

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 January, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 January, 1999, 12:00am

THE international phone call price war has made Hong Kong one of the cheapest places in the world from which to dial abroad, a Sunday Morning Post survey has found.

Hong Kong now offers more attractive economy calling charges to the United States and Canada than are available phoning the other way using AT&T or MCI.

It is also now cheaper to ring Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Britain, Guangdong and north China from Hong Kong than it is to call the SAR from those countries.

The price advantage over other countries is even greater if you take midnight promotions into account, with operators offering calls for as little as $0.45 a minute to the US and Canada between 1am and 7am.

A spokesman at the Office of the Telecommunications Authority said charges had been driven down to cost level with the implementation of international simple resale (ISR).

ISR started this year allowing telecom rivals to rent bulk capacity from Hongkong Telecom and resell it.

'With the use of optic fibres and satellites to carry transmissions, the distance between countries is no longer a concern for price determination,' the spokesman said.

'You strike down a monopoly and prices come down.

'What is more crucial is the extent of telecom liberalisation in a market, and the volume of traffic. Usually the higher the traffic, the lower the price.' The IDD price war was triggered by City Telecom (Hong Kong) on December 30.

All other major operators promptly joined in.

The Consumer Council has, however, warned users to carefully read the small print attached to promotions, as various time restrictions apply.