New World Development

So long to unlimited phone use

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2012, 12:00am


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Most mobile service providers stopped offering unlimited data plans to their new smartphone customers yesterday as new rules came into play.

Operators 3HK, SmarTone and PCCW have replaced their unlimited deals with volume-based pricing.

The option is still available with CSL, which oversees One2Free and 1010. None of the current contracts at any of companies will be affected.

For new contracts signed as of yesterday, 3HK will cap its biggest data plan at 3GB monthly, SmarTone at 2GB, and PCCW at 5GB.

CSL says clients who use their smartphones a lot may experience slower service. It, too, plans to stop unlimited deals later this year.

Hubert Chan Chung-yee, chairman of the Communications Association, predicts arguments between operators and customers over the pricing of extra data usage.

The Communications Association is working with the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (Ofta) to introduce an arbitration system by July to settle bill-related complaints.

All local mobile service companies are making changes in their plans to comply with Ofta's Fair Usage Policy Guidelines.

The new regulations state that network operators must offer 'unlimited' plans without restrictions, or consider providing plans with a high-usage cap.

The guidelines came after CSL customers with high data use complained in 2010 that the operator throttled their phones' transmission speeds as part of its 'fair use policy', which they weren't aware of. CSL was fined HK$130,000.