HK fixed-line phone users blocked from switching camps

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 July, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 July, 2004, 12:00am

More than 45,000 Hong Kong fixed-line telephone users applied to switch networks last month, but only 58 per cent of them saw their requests successfully processed, according to telecommunications regulator Ofta.

The Office of the Telecommunications Authority's first report on fixed-line users' defections among operators revealed that 45,161 customers made requests to switch to a rival in June - 6.8 per cent more than in May. However, only 26,102 users successfully switched networks.

The success rate dropped 3 percentage points from May to 58 per cent last month.

The success rate on consumer requests to switch operators for fixed-line users was far lower than the 93.9 per cent success rate for mobile users. Last month, 88,179 mobile users successfully switched their numbers from their existing networks to other operators.

Tony Cheung, vice-president (consumer market) at Wharf T&T - a small fixed-line carrier - said the low success rate showed that fixed-line customers were facing administrative hurdles in the processing of their requests to switch networks.

'Unlike the mobile market, there is a dominant player [PCCW] that has the power to deter users from switching networks by imposing an unduly long switching process,' he said.

Although Ofta did not provide breakdowns on which operators were losing customers, it is widely believed that dominant fixed-line carrier PCCW is the biggest loser.

An Ofta spokeswoman said the low success rate for fixed-line customers was due to the complexity of the switching process.

'The switching for a fixed-line is a lot more complicated,' she said. 'It involves physical circuits.'

The report also showed that 12,393 users' existing network providers did not accept their requests to switch because of incomplete account details.