Hongkongers enjoy world-class internet services at a fraction of the cost of other countries

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 July, 2013, 5:19am

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I refer to the letter by Charles Chan regarding HKT's broadband service ("PCCW abuses broadband monopoly", July 21).

As Asia's world city and a global financial centre, Hong Kong needs a world-class optical fibre broadband network to sustain its hard-earned position.

In many countries the requisite investment in this fibre network is provided or subsidised by the government, but this is not the case in Hong Kong. HKT funds every cent of it and it is a huge investment - in the order of HK$1 billion per year.

To recover our investments, and to cope with other rising costs, we must adjust prices accordingly; this is particularly necessary since, in the 10 years to 2012, the average price of our broadband service fell some 40 per cent in real terms.

In addition, as we upgrade our fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) technology, we cannot be expected to keep the ageing copper-based network in operation.

Indeed, as customers migrate to fibre, the costs of retaining obsolete network assets in operation for a smaller customer base increase dramatically, hence we also need to price the copper-based service higher.

Hong Kong was the world No1 for average peak internet connection speeds, according to Akamai Technologies' report for the fourth quarter of 2012.

This is attributable to the investments that the private sector has been making, and HKT intends to keep Hong Kong at the forefront by continuing to invest and increase broadband speeds and raise service quality.

While this has had an impact on consumer pricing, which has come off its historical lows as we sweated our ageing copper network, HKT welcomes customers to compare our pricing to those in other markets.

They will find that few consumers overseas even have FTTH available to them and those who do face much higher prices.

For instance, the average price for a residential fibre line in Singapore was about three times that of ours, and more than double in the US, according to independent research using 2012 data.

In terms of availability, the number of FTTH users in France is roughly the same as the number of HKT's FTTH customers - but France's population is nearly 10 times that of our city.

Hong Kong consumers are getting the benefit of the world's best technology and services - and at prices that are a fraction of those overseas - and that is because HKT is committed to investing in our future.

C. K. Chan, head of group communications, HKT