New World Development

Hutchison goes for content

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2006, 12:00am

Operators of third-generation (3G) mobile services in Hong Kong are likely to switch their focus from price to content and services after the largest local operator, Hutchison Telecom, raised its price plan for its service for the first time since it began in 2004.

Hutchison Telecom raised its 3G service price plans for new subscribers at the weekend to between $128 and $538 from between $123 and $533.

Hutchison Telecom expects its 3G users to exceed 500,000 later this month, with subscriptions now standing at 485,000 users. An industry source said the company had added 100,000 new 3G users over the past three months.

'We want to follow up on the successful business model of our music content bundling with the latest 3G handset - the LG U880 - which has been well received by the market,' a source close to Hutchison Telecom said.

'We will focus on providing good content rather than competing on price since content is the main source of profit in the 3G business.'

Hong Kong CSL, the second-largest mobile operator in Hong Kong owned by Australian telecommunications giant Telstra Corp, responded to the price rise yesterday by unveiling a new 3G mobile television service.

Users will be able to watch nine television channels such as news and music videos through their 3G video phone. The operator plans to charge users on a pay-as-you-go basis at $1 per minute.

CSL had pushed its mobile television service two years ago by offering its Video World service, with users of 2.5G and 3G handsets able to view video clips on an on-demand basis.

This time, however, mobile television would be transmitted through a video call connection.

CSL said it was confident that such new services could generate more revenue to compensate for the fierce competition in voice tariffs.

'We never compete on price but would keep our price plan competitive on the market,' said Ritchie Ma, general manager in marketing of CSL's One2Free.

'We do feel optimistic about our 3G service. There is plenty of room to boost our revenue from mobile data.'

CSL said it had about 50,000 3G subscribers, the same as rival SmarTone-Vodafone.

'We will focus on our 3G service development and provide more new content to boost mobile data usage,' Mr Ma said.

He added that mobile data use accounted for about 20 per cent of the operator's service revenue.