New Tariff Plan from Smartone-Vodafone for iPhone

Smartone-Vodafone logoAs I still found my Smartone-Vodafone charges too high, I decided to look for alternatives, including those from competitors, like: PCCW, Three and People.

For those of you who’ve been following my ideal iPhone tariff plan search in Hong Kong, you will know that I had been using Smartone-Vodafone’s 3G voice plan (HKD128/month) + Internet Browsing (HKD38/month)+ Data plan (HKD118/month), giving me a total monthly bill of HKD296/month (including the MTR and administrative fees).

What did these combinations of plans gave me? I will only focus on the features that matters for an iPhone user.

Smartone-Vodafone (Option 1):

  • 1200 minutes of talk time outside of the Smartone-Vodafone network
  • 800 minutes of talk time within the Smartone-Vodafone network
  • Free SMS within the Smartone-Vodafone network
  • Voice mail, Call forwarding, Caller number display, Call waiting and Conference call
  • 20MB/day of Internet browsing (HTTP traffic)
  • 20MB/month of Data traffic (all traffic except HTTP, ie. POP3, IMAP, etc.), extra usage will be at a rate of HKD0.01/KB

I looked at my bill from September and notice that I had approximately 8MB of data usage outside of the HTTP protocol. I used approximately 700 minutes within the Smartone-Vodafone network and 130 minutes outside of the network.

I then looked at PCCW’s “Web + Talk” HKD98/month tariff plan, to see if it is something more appropriate for my usage habits. I found that for HKD98/month, there is no contract commitment. Plus the plan gives you the following.

PCCW “Web + Talk” (Option 2):

  • 600 minutes of talk time outside of the PCCW network
  • 600 minutes of talk time within the PCCW network
  • Free SMS within the PCCW network (the sales person told me there was no free SMS, but their web site claims there is)
  • Unlimited use of PCCW WiFi hotspot
  • 60MB/month of data usage (the sales person claims this is HSDPA, but the web site claims it is GPRS), any extra data traffic will be charged at a rate of HKD10/10MB, with a maximum of HK298

Basing on my September usage, I use on average 18MB per day of data traffic, I am expected to pay and extra HKD298/month to cover the extra data usage. Giving me a total cost of HKD98 + HKD12 + HKD298 = HKD408/month.

So I decided to give Smartone-Vodafone’s new Internet Browsing plan a try. Starting on November 12th, I am using their new Internet Browsing Plan, “IOM Value Pack” for HKD136.00 per month + HKD12.00 for MTR and Administrative charges = HKD148/moth.

Note that the HK96.00/month and HKD116/month plans require contractual agreements of 15 months. As many of you know I am against committing to any contracts for mobile tariff plans, as these prices usually drops within 6 months time. Due to the heavy competition in Hong Kong’s mobile market.

Smartone-Vodafone “IOM Value Pack” (Option 3):

  • 600 minutes of talk time outside of the Smartone-Vodafone network
  • 600 minutes of talk time within the Smartone-Vodafone network
  • Free SMS within the Smartone-Vodafone network
  • Voice mail, Call forwarding, Caller number display, Call waiting and Conference call
  • 600MB/month (20MB/day) data usage.

The thing about Smartone-Vodafone’s data allowance is that it only covers HTTP traffic, or in their words “web browsing”. They really should be more specific than calling it “web browsing”. I understand that anything more technical may be confusing for the average user, but they should clarify what “web browsing” mean in a footnote, detailing the Internet protocols. For the moment I can only deduce that “web browsing” covers any traffic using the HTTP protocol (ie. HTTP GET, HTTP POST, HTTPS activities).

Any extra data usage over the 600MB/month (20MB/day) or outside the HTTP protocol will be charged at HK15.00/15MB. Given my September month’s usage (8MB of data usage outside of the HTTP protocol and less than 20MB/day HTTP traffic) I am expected to be charge an extra HK15.

This gives my monthly bill under the IOM Value Pack plan to be HKD136 + HKD15 +HKD12 = HKD163/month.

So my options are:

Option 1 Option 2 Option 3
HKD296/month HKD408/month HKD163/month
Smartone-Vodafone PCCW Smartone-Vodafone

I will report back in a month’s time to see if my new plan choice is the right one for an average iPhone user in Hong Kong.

10 Comments

  1. The iPhone's application are using HTTP connections to accomplish any server actions.The only exception is when iPhone applications are communicating with a server using other protocols at non-standard web browsing ports.Meebo is not going to use HTTP connection and port 80 or 8080 if it had a native client on the iPhone. Similarly Smartone-Vodafone will isolate any RSS, POP3 and IMAP connections from being including in their “Internet Browsing”. There are iPhone applications that uses HTTP and port 80 to communicate with server components and these to Smartone-Vodafone would be counted as part of their “Internet Browsing” traffic.

  2. I got a call from them today, they were upfront with my questions. even with the points that i learnt from your site on the usage. Anything that uses the web browser is included the 20mb, even if you use online messenger websites such as meebo, because meebo is web browser based, even though it is msn/yahoo/messenger clients it is still web browsing.20mb a day is very little. But the $15 per 15mb is ok, this at least is not a daily charge and continues to roll over throughout the billing month.Iphone is App centric and non website stuff though will incur the data charge, for instance if you use a messenging client on the iphone theres a charge.

  3. I normally would recommend Smartone-Vodafone without a doubt, but recently they have removed all tariff plans without contracts.I still think their Customer Service is the best among the carriers in Hong Kong.One other thing I realized is that Smartone-Vodafone has 14 Mbps HSDPA compatibility at all locations where there's 3G coverage. Comparing to 3 HK, that's much better as 3 HK only have spotty 7.2 Mbps coverage and mostly 3.6 Mbps.BTW: the iPhone 3GS supports 7.2 Mbps HSDPA downlink.

  4. how is your smartone service going.?Four years of putting up with Three HK, i decided to move my money to a new service provider.In a nutshell, they will let me sign a new 12 month contract and let me keep my old no, i can do so immediately. Where as if i want to sign a 24month contact to get a better deal i will have to jump though hoops by cancelling my out of contract no. then goto Three shop sign 24month contract and then pay to get my old no. back in which i will have to wait around five days.so my choice was take A) switch my current dualband and out of contract account to a 'f*ck you' 12month 3G contract, in which i and keep and use my old no. immediatley.B) cancel my out of contract dual band account, sign onto a new 24month 3G contract, pay to have my old no (and wait five days for this to happen), of course they decide there is a charge to change my new no. to my old no.You may ask why would you want a 24month account over a 12month loyal customer upgrade? The 12month loyal customer upgrade would have cost almost as much as a 24month new contract!! Three customer service said literally this is.So i'm taking option C) cancel my account go elsewhere

  5. I accidentally deleted a reader's question.As I recall, since I only read the question briefly before deleting, he asked if he can use PCCW Netvigator's Wireless plan on the iPhone.The answer is yes, but although Netvigator's WiFi hotspots are prevalent, as of Jan. 2008 there were over 3000, there are still not enough to allow for continuous connection as one would get with GPRS (EDGE) or 3G (HSDPA).BTW: I am using a 1st generation iPhone on the Smartone-Vodafone 3G network and tariff plan. This is because the 2G plans are comparatively more expensive for the iPhone than the 3G plan.PS: I am also hoping to upgrade to a iPhone 3G when the Apple HK price is expected to drop after the New Year.

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