PCCW dials up rage with broadband price increase
Users of PCCW's internet service, Netvigator, have voiced anger at an announced price increase of more than 30 per cent for people who pay on a monthly basis.
Users have received a letter informing them of the biggest increase in years - a monthly rate of HK$218, up from HK$150. The change applies to those who have not signed a long-term contract with PCCW but pay month by month.
The letter touts Netvigator's 98 per cent network coverage and awards it has won, then goes on to say: 'We regret that because there has been a substantial increase in our costs, price adjustments for some of our services have become necessary.'
Ian Watson, who lives on Lamma Island, used to pay HK$162 a month. He is angered at having to pay about 35 per cent more.
'I pay HK$218 for three megabits per second,' Watson said. 'Those in Taikoo Shing pay HK$266 and get 300Mbps.'
Data transfer rates are much slower in small establishments than high-rise buildings because few users share the costs of setting up the infrastructure.
Other users have posted their grievances online. One who lives in an old, stand-alone building in Kwun Tong wrote in a forum that he had no other service providers to choose from. Another wrote that he had submitted a complaint to the Consumer Council, saying that tens of thousands of people living in old blocks or remote areas have no choice but to stick with Netvigator.
According to a PCCW hotline, the new rate of HK$218 per month applies to 6Mb or 8Mb plans. Affected users are urged to sign an 18-month contract. Those who do still have to pay HK$218, but get a HK$400 Wellcome supermarket coupon.
'These are normal commercial activities,' a PCCW spokeswoman said. 'We need to take into consideration the costs and the market situation when reviewing our tariff plans.'
PCCW competitor i-Cable offers a service to only part of Lamma, a hotline staffer said. A 24-month contract with that company costs HK$80 per month for a 10Mb plan and HK$149 for a 50Mb plan.
Hong Kong Broadband does not offer service on the island. Its website lists different prices for various estates, with 100Mb services starting from about HK$169 a month.
The Consumer Council received 1,802 complaints about internet services in the first nine months this year, 13 per cent fewer than the same period last year. The highest number, 689, concerned quality of service. Another 552 were over price disputes.
Connie Lau Yin-hing, the council's chief executive, said she would not comment on individual cases. Consumers had the freedom to choose services considered to offer good value for money, she said.
Service providers would fail in their social responsibility if they imposed a fare hike on consumers left without a choice, she added.
The first-half profit, in Hong Kong dollars, posted by PCCW in August, up 8 per cent from HK$765 million in the same period last year