Probe into CSL mobile broadband claims

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 July, 2009, 12:00am

The city's telecoms and broadcasting watchdogs are investigating complaints against CSL New World Mobility over claims about its new mobile broadband service.

Rival operator SmarTone-Vodafone says New World is misrepresenting the capabilities of its Express 21 USB modem by saying it can reach download speeds of 21 megabits per second. SmarTone says the modem can reach only half that speed.

Douglas Li, chief executive of SmarTone, launched a rare attack against its competitor over what he described as 'a matter of untruthfulness and misrepresentation'.

His company subscribed to the service in April and tested the modem around the city. The download speed ranged from 2Mbps to 7Mbps, he said.

SmarTone tested the modem in front of the press yesterday, and achieved download speeds ranging from 1.4Mbps in Wan Chai to a peak of 3.9Mbps in Central.

'No matter the time and place, they cannot boost the performance to anywhere near their claimed speed of 21Mbps,' Mr Li said.

'It is harming the whole industry, as consumers may no longer believe in mobile operators.'

CSL last night issued a response to the claim, saying it was considering its legal options over SmarTone's statements.

David Aitken, the company's head of regulatory and corporate affairs, said independent tests conducted this year on all mobile broadband networks in Hong Kong supported all of CSL's advertising claims.

'The question that needs to be asked of other mobile operators is, 'How fast is your network all over Hong Kong?' - not just a few sites in the golden bowl, but all over the territory,' he said. 'Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those doing it,' Mr Aitken said.

The director of the Hong Kong Wireless Development Centre, Anthony Tang, said the performance of mobile broadband might be affected by network coverage and the quality of the USB modem, among other factors.

Both the Office of the Telecommunications Authority and the Broadcasting Authority confirmed they had received a complaint and were carrying out investigations into the matter.