A new era for mobiles?

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 February, 2012, 12:00am


HONG KONG - SmarTone and other companies say they will stop offering unlimited data plans to smartphone users after a rule comes into effect today. The move may not impact university students too much. It forces firms to spell out limitations in 'unlimited data plans'.

All service providers have a fair use policy (FUP) that lets customers know they are subject to restrictions; it is a way to ensure all users enjoy satisfactory services. But a government watchdog said those limitations were not spelled out clearly.

'Many of the so-called 'unlimited' service plans are actually subject to limitations in the name of FUP. I must stress that FUP was introduced by service providers, not the government,' said Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung.

To make matters more confusing for consumers, each service provider has a different fair use policy. Now new guidelines require them to clearly detail the terms and conditions of unlimited data plans.

When the rule was proposed, SmarTone said it would rather stop offering such plans. For contracts signed today and after, data use will be capped at 2GB. (With 2GB, users can browse 1,000 web pages or 10,000 e-mails or watch a five-hour video.) Current contracts will not be affected. Other companies have said they may follow suit.

Struce Kwok Tsz-him, a student at Chinese University, thinks the cancellation of unlimited data plans will not worry university students.

'We have wi-fi networks on campus so I guess it will not affect students. But it is probably a nuisance for people who need to use a lot of data.'