Mobile operators slash rates to boost internet revenue

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2007, 12:00am

Mobile operators in Hong Kong, seeking to boost revenue from internet video services amid the ever-tightening margins of voice services, are slashing tariffs for users accessing the internet.

SmarTone-Vodafone, the mobile arm of Sun Hung Kai Properties, last week introduced its Internet on Mobile service for HK$28 per month, entitling users to 20 megabytes each day for browsing up to 130 web pages or retrieving 1,300 emails, or 60MB during the month. Charges are capped at HK$78 per month for unlimited internet access.

Previously, SmarTone-Vodafone users wanting internet access had to subscribe to mobile data tariff plans that ranged from HK$118 per month for 10MB data usage to HK$188 for 100MB, which was also the best deal for those wanting 60MB.

The latest offer represents an 85 per cent cut in mobile data charges.

Previously, Hutchison Telecom had introduced a 3G data usage plan giving internet access at HK$28 a month for 2MB of usage or HK$488 for unlimited access.

'The new tariff is no doubt a substantial reduction in mobile data tariff,' said Patrick Chan, executive director of SmarTone-Vodafone. 'It would be too expensive for users to enjoy our new service if we implemented the old data plan.'

The Internet on Mobile service allows users to browse internet sites for mobile devices offered via Yahoo, Google and video portal YouTube as well as SmarTone-Vodafone's 3G content.

The new service supports mainstream 3G handsets such as Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Motorola. Phone users can access the same website views as those offered by desktop computers and can synchronise their favourite websites from a desktop to a mobile phone.

Mr Chan said the focus of the new service was to increase video watching on mobiles. This is a bandwidth-consuming service, with a minute-long video clip on YouTube requiring up to one megabyte of data usage.

'Our new service aims to attract users who watch video clips on the internet to mobile services, while other mobile operators do not allow their users to do so,' Mr Chan said.

'But we can't use the old plan for the new service. As the video downloading service consumes much bandwidth, we need to change our pricing in a user-friendly way.'

Some mobile operators such as China Mobile Peoples and New World Mobility have introduced unlimited mobile data usage tariffs at HK$128 per month.

'In general, users not watching video content on mobile phones will spend only five megabytes to 10MB of data usage a month,' Mr Chan said.

He added that the company's new plan offering customers 20MB usage each day should be sufficient for general browsing of video and email on their handsets.

Hutchison charges HK$28 per month to browse the internet without limitation.