People overseas have asked if I can recommend a stored-value SIM package for them during their stay in Hong Kong, so instead of repeating my answer over an over I've decided to create a post. Before reading this post one needs to understand one thing about the mobile market in Hong Kong. It is very competitive and the rates and packages change frequently; around every six months. So aside from the following recommendations you should also verify my information when you arrive in Hong Kong.

Another thing to be aware of. Except for speaking to Smartone-Vodafone, don't use the phrase "Stored-Value SIM" to describe what you're looking for, as most of the other 6 carriers do not know what that means.

GSM Mobile without Data

If you're not using a GSM mobile phone with a micro-SIM card then you have many options. Any of the 7 carriers: PCCW Mobile, CSL's 1010, CSL's one2free, 3 HK, Smartone-Vodafone, China Mobile and China Unicom, in Hong Kong will have stored-value SIM cards for you.

GSM Mobile with Data

It appears that 3 HK and China Mobile are the only carriers in Hong Kong who are willing to serve overseas customers that want to use mobile data on their phone while in Hong Kong. With the former offering 3G Data connectivity.

GSM Mobile with 3G Data and micro-SIM

Even though Apple HK has three official carrier partners for the iPhone: CSL, 3 HK, Smartone-Vodafone, and a total of four carriers that sells iPhone 4 tariff plans, there is only one carrier (3 HK) that offers stored-valued SIM packages with micro-SIMs.

The type of SIM cards that 3 HK sells are those that can be either a regular mini-SIM or a micro-SIM (for the iPhone 4). Although, after you make the choice of turning it into a micro-SIM there's no way to go back.

Conclusion

Conveniently all carriers' store-value SIM packages are available at 7-11 so you can make your choice at the Hong Kong International Airport before you get onto the Airport Express for town.

Have a good stay!

Posted
AuthorVinko

My broadband service provider, Netvigator (by PCCW), throw the switch of my broadband connection this morning to upgrade it from 30 Mbps to 100 Mbps. Although Netvigator has fiber services to homes unfortunately this is not available for my home. Instead what Netvigator offers at my address is DSL at 100 Mbps. Since my DSL modem was recently (3 months) upgraded all that was needed was a setting change at the PCCW exchange.

With this new technology it means most customers who receive broadband services from Netvigator will have or will soon to have 100 Mbps bandwidth if they want to upgrade.

I am now getting an average of 69 Mbps for downlink and 25 Mbps uplink. Previously when I was subscribing to their 30 Mbps service, my downlink was averaging at 28 Mbps and uplink was 8 Mbps.

Before the upgrade I was on the 12th month of a 24-month contract for Netvigator's 30 Mbps service at HKD238/month. Netvigator was able to cancel the remainder of my 30 Mbps contract and upgrade me to the 100 Mbps service with a 18-month contract for an additional HKD18/month, giving me a total of HKD256/month.

Since this is not Netvigator's FiberDirect service it is not a symmetric 100 Mbps (both downlink and uplink), but a bandwidth that offers theoretical 100 Mbps downlink and 30 Mbps uplink.

I use SpeedTest.net to check the speed but since it's scale does not go pass 50 Mbps I am not certain it is truly accurate. Using HK Broadband's test I was able to confirm that I do have a 100 Mbps (downlink) connection.

You may say, why do I need that kind of speed at home? Will I actually be able to utilize it? Keeping in mind there are many factors that reduce the quality of experience when accessing content over the Internet. One of the main bottleneck being the country's (city in the case of Hong Kong) connection to the Internet and the speed of the web service provider to serve the content/service you are seeking.

In my case the decision to upgrade to 100 Mbps was simple; given Netvigator's offer of only an additional HKD18/month and only another 12 months to my previous contract. Plus since the day I subscribed to Netvigator's 8 Mbps service the number of individuals and the type of content/services they access through the Internet had grown in my household, having a bigger pipe just eliminates one of the many bottlenecks that may result in poor quality of experience.

I do suggest people upgrade to 30 Mbps if they can find a good deal, and to 100 Mbps if they are already on the 30 Mbps service and it is available at your location.

[Updated: November 18, 2010, 15:15] After several hours of use the bandwidth had not degraded. I even did speed tests while NOW TV (the Netvigator IP TV service) is running and the bandwidth still averaging at around 65 Mbps downlink and 25 Mbps uplink. That's impressive. Previously even with the 30 Mbps broadband service I was getting bandwidth of 18 Mbps downlink and 3 Mbps uplink if I had NOW TV on.

Since there was no modem or wiring changes, the improvement has to do with the switch and/or circuit at the PCCW exchange, the 100 Mbps allowance and the algorithm to manage the bandwidth allowance.

Posted
AuthorVinko
Categoriesopinion

Recently you may have just purchased one of Apple's latest gadgets, the iPad WiFi+3G, from the 9 countries officially selling them, or plans to get one of the iPhone 4 from either Canada, France and UK. This is because all iPad WiFi+3G (except the ones sold in Japan) and iPhone 4 sold in Canada, France, UK and Hong Kong are SIM-unlocked. Meaning they will not be locked to a particular GSM carrier, therefore users can choose to put GSM SIM cards from any carriers into these devices and they will work. That's true with a small exception, these GSM SIM must be the micro-SIM format rather than the more commonly used "mini-SIM" among GSM carriers around the world.

At the moment micro-SIM cards are only available from 3 HK, but these cards are for data access only and does not include voice capabilities. For Smartone-Vodafone (SMV) and PCCW they both offer micro-SIM cards but only for customers who have subscribed to their data tariff plans and without voice capabilities.

So if you're looking for a micro-SIM to put inside your iPhone 4 from one of the Hong Kong carriers, you will have to wait until the official launch of the iPhone 4 in Hong Kong. Fortunately Hong Kong is one of the 9 countries in the second phrase iPhone launch initially planned for July 2010, but recent sales and high demands in the 4 initial launch countries may cause the second phrase to be delayed.

I had contacted SMV and PCCW and they both tells me that they have no availability date for micro-SIM card, only that both will have micro-SIM cards when the iPhone 4 is officially available for sale in Hong Kong.

If you cannot wait, the alternative is to convert your existing mini-SIM to a micro-SIM card. It turns out the contacts for these two types of SIM are the same. The only different being the dimensions of these cards 15mm x 25mm (mini-SIM) compared to 12mm x 15mm (micro-SIM).

The following step by step instructions are from iHackintosh.com and they are provided here for your convenient. There are no guarantee by iHackintosh.com or myself (Vinko.Com). Also note that most carriers charges a fee for replacement SIM cards.

What you you will need are: mini-SIM, marker pen, ruler, sharp cutter and filing tool (Nail File).

  1. Get a GSM mini-SIM card. Your existing GSM SIM card will do.
  2. Mark the mini-SIM with the dimensions of the micro-SIM card (12mm x 15mm).
  3. Make initial cuts along marked lines with a cuter, bend along the cuts and then finish with a scissors.
  4. Use the file to file down the conners and edges.

If you ever want to use this newly created micro-SIM card in a device that only accept mini-SIM cards like the original iPhone, iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS. You can purchase a micro-SIM Adapter from Vinko's Treasures for USD5.15 including worldwide shipping.

With the pending iPad official release by Apple Hong Kong some time in July, mobile carriers in Hong Kong have begin to release tariff plans designed specifically to target iPad owners. Among them only 3 HK currently has a data plan that comes with either a regular mini-SIM or the new micro-SIM. The rest of the carriers are offering data only 3G tariff plans that includes a free USB 3G modem. All of the plans also come with free WiFi network.

Below I am only focusing on the respective 7.2Mbps unlimited "local data" plans from each carriers. Each of the tariff plans requires commitments between 18 months to 24 months.

Carrier Plan Name Contract Commitment Price (HKD)
Smartone-Vodafone Power 7 Tablet Micro-SIM Data Plan 24 months 18 months $238 $198
PCCW Netvigator Everywhere Netvigator Everywhere for existing Netvigator Broadband Customers 24 months $328
3 HK Easyplus Data Plan x iPad* Unknown Depends on Usage

* I was not able to confirm with 3 HK the downlink/uplink speeds of their HKD188 Easyplus data plan.

I absolutely do not recommend using either of the CSL brands: 1010 or One2Free. Their web sites specify that their 3G networks support only UMTS 900MHz, which is not one of the 3G bands (UMTS/HSDPA: 850, 1900, 2100 MHz) that the iPad supports. Using 3G data plans from either of these two carriers will force the iPad to drop down to GPRS (2G) or EDGE (2.5G).

[Updated: June 23, 2010, 20:00] Thanks to the reader, Peter, for pointing out that CSL had upgraded their 3G network to support 900Mhz, 1800Mhz, 2100Mhz and 2600Mhz. Therefore iPad on the CSL network will not drop down to GPRS (2G) or EDGE (2.5G) network as I had previously said. Instead it will utilize the 2100Mhz frequency.

I tried to confirm this 3G band information on the CSL 3G networks, but there is absolutely no way for me to get any information from either of the CSL Customer Services hotlines: 1010 and One2Free. After connecting to both of them, and placed on hold for extended periods multiple times, the CS representatives hang up on me each time without answering my question. This recent experience further justify why I left One2Free 6 years ago after being on their network for over 6 years, and why I do not recommend them to anyone in HK.

The rest of the carriers: China Mobile and China Unicom, in Hong Kong do not have 3G networks. Therefore, if you must get a data plan for your iPad WiFi+3G your choice is obvious, Smartone-Vodafone is the one to go with, but you will have to cut the mini-SIM down in size to a micro-SIM form factor for it to fit in the iPad SIM slot.

[Updated: May 25, 2010, 15:53] As point out by @ThomasHK, 3 HK has non-contractual prepaid ("pay-as-you-go") SIM cards with 3G data for HKD28/day or HKD338/month also.

[Updated: June 23, 2010, 20:00] From a Twitter friend @jesschg who pointed out that since the writing of my post SMV had released their Tablet Micro-SIM Data Plan. I have since updated the table above to reflect this change.

I to have some concerns with SMV's marketing for this new tariff plan.

Enhances Facebook apps to enable them to display videos on Facebook

This is already a built-in function of the Facebook app 3.1.3 and later. Redirecting Flash video to SMV servers so they can transcode it to show on the iPhone is nothing new for SMV. This feature had been with their IOM ("Internet on Mobile") service for years.

  • Auto-detects & alerts you to RSS/Podcast content, for instant enjoyment
  • Helps you share webpages with others on Facebook or via email
  • Stores your bookmarks & 30-day browsing history online, for quick search & retrieval anytime, even if you lose or change device

Any users of "Tablets" with true browsers will not need help with any of the above 4 points, particularly iPad users.

What they did not specify prominently is the theoretical maximum speeds of this service, which they only sate in the small prints under Remarks

2-6Mbps download/500kbps-3.5Mbps upload

Although this is not the fastest speed available from SMV, iPad users will not care as the iPad will not be capable of taking advantage of speeds greater than 7Mbps downlink.

I expects other carriers will have updates to their tariff plans as we get closer to the official release of the iPad in Hong Kong.

Smartone-Vodafone logoPCCW LogoCSL LogoEarly this year both PCCW and CSL launched their HSPA+ network. As a result improving the speed and capacity of their respective networks. Offering a theoretical downlink speed of 21Mbps and uplink speed of 7Mbps. On Wednesday, November 4th Smartone-Vodafone (SMV) launched their HSPA+ upgrade to their 3G network.

The difference between SMV's announcements and the others, is that SMV also released a document to clarify the theoretical speed of HSPA+. Where as other mobile carriers in Hong Kong and elsewhere in the world, only focused on marketing the HSPA+ networks' capability of 21Mbps speed, leaving the actual ability to achieve 21Mbps as small prints in their promotional materials. Such practices of these other mobile carriers are very misleading for layman consumers. I will attempt to explain further, to help clarify this theoretical speed of HSPA+ for layman consumers.

The ability to achieve a downlink speed of 21Mbps on any HSPA+ networks depends on many uncontrollable factors. Not to mention the availability of client devices that are compatible with HSPA+ networks. The user with the HSPA+ compatible device will need to satisfy all of the follow:

  • The user be within a very close proximity to the cellular antenna; well within half the distance to the cell edge.
  • There are no one else connected to the cellular antenna other than the user.
  • The edge server of the carrier has no other users.
  • The server hosting the web site has no other users accessing it.
  • Lastly there are no other users using the connection between the mobile carrier's ISP and the web site in question.

speedtest-screenAs you can see from the above it is impossible to achieve such a scenario in real life.

In an effort for SMV to be transparent and honest to its customers they lay out the explanations for this theoretical speed in a web page on their web site, The truth about broadband speeds.

I will give SMV HSPA+ network a try in the coming weeks and will report back after I do.

In the mean time I have already noticed improvements on the SMV 3G data access speed in the recent days. This is most likely due to the additional capacity gained by the HSPA+ upgrade.

Netvigator LogoStarted about 14:00 yesterday (August 17, 2009) Hong Kong time access to majority of the Internet web services hosted outside of Asia was unreachable. This first happened at my home with Netvigator Home Broadband service. I Tweeted about this hoping to get confirmation from others in Hong Kong. I also left to tried to see if the problem is localized to my building or district (Wanchai). I visited a Starbucks in Causeway Bay. After logging into PCCW WiFi connection at Starbucks I confirmed that most Internet web services were unreachable.

A friend then came and logged into the PCCW WiFi University service and was able to connect to each of the web services I was not able to. So I proceeded to try using Smartone-Vodafone to reach these Internet web services. I was too successful in accessing these Internet web services via Smartone-Vodafone's HSDPA network.

This morning China Unicom released an explanation, as reported by Shanghai Daily, the reasons for yesterday's Internet interruptions for its customers. PCCW's Netvigator service released a short news item in their Customer Service section of their web site, placing blame on "severe weather conditions" that caused "multiple submarine cable faults" claiming that "Some customers may experience traffic congestions" with"international traffic". I have encountered Error 500 for services I tried to access, but in Netvigator's "news item", it claims that their "systems are in normal operation and are working closely with partners to divert traffic".

I cannot see how they can claim their "systems are in normal operation", when I had paid for and expects the delivery of broadband Internet service at 8Mbps. So I called Netvigator's Technical Support line, 1000, and filed a complaint and asked for details of compensation to customer for the interruption.

According to Netvigator service policy, if any interruptions is longer than 24 hours their customer is justified for compensation. The Technical Support representative tells me that I should call back after the service is back to "normal", since they have no idea how long the interruptions will last.

I asked the Technical Support representative if all Netvigator customers will be compensated after the service returns to normal, and he gave me a convoluted answer that basically say that not all Netvigator customers will experience the problem. So I ask for my official complaint to be logged.

I suggest everyone who are effected by the PCCW's Netvigator Broadband Home service interruption to call Netvigator and demand compensation and to ask for your complaint to be logged.

Posted
AuthorVinko

iPhone 3G With 3.0When I the create the post, To iPhone 3G S or Not?, I was not able to enable the MMS function on my iPhone 3G. Before I explain how to enable MMS on an iPhone 3G running the iPhone 3.0 firmware, let me explain my context.

My iPhone 3G is the officially "SIM unlocked" version of the iPhone 3G directly from Apple Online Store Hong Kong. It capacity happens to be a 16GB version. I installed the iPhone 3.0 firmware "Golden Master" version onto my iPhone.

The following applies to any carrier situations, no matter whether the carrier in question is an official carrier partner with Apple in the country.

[Update: 12:10, June 18, 2009] Added MMS settings for PCCW. Please note that these settings had not been tested on the iPhone. Please leave a note in the Comment section if you're a PCCW customer and tried it on your iPhone 3G.

[Update: 13:01, June 18, 2009] Thanks to reader Jon for pointing out the typo in the MMSC for Smartone-Vodafone.

[Update: 14:01, June 18, 2009] I just received some news from Smartone-Vodafone that contradicts the information I received from them in two separate occasions, which is the fact that they do not charge their customers for receiving MMS.

The latest information is that they will charge HKD0.04/KB; a maximum of HKD12.00/MMS, to receive MMS.

This comes back to my original point I always had with MMS, the technology will not get wide adoptions and acceptances by consumers until the carriers remove these ridiculous pricing.

I for one will not use it!

I encourage all to not use it and ensure you do not pay the fees to show our disgust.

[Update: 17:11, June 18, 2009] Thanks to reader Karay who pointed to a person calling himself "markmall_hk" on UWants.com, I have now updated the MMS settings for all mobile carriers in Hong Kong.

[Update: 01:10, June 20, 2009] Added settings for CTM in Macau.

[Update: 01:20, June 20, 2009] Thanks to reader Niels for the China Unicom 3G settings in mainland China.

[Update: 01:30, June 20, 2009] Thanks to reader Ju for confirming the settings for PEOPLE.

[Update: 15:10, June 20, 2009] Thanks to reader Todd for confirming the settings for CSL

[Update: 22:00, June 23, 2009] Thanks to the folks at iPhoneHacks.com we now have a set of instructions for our US friends who are stuck with AT&T.

[Update: 12:15, June 24, 2009] Thanks to reader Filipe for supplying the settings for CTM Macau non-prepaid SIM card customers.

[Update: 16:00, June 25, 2009] I just double checked Smartone-Vodafone's web site and it clearly states that "3G SmarTone-Vodafone customers" can receive MMS for FREE.

So I do not understand why the previous Customer Service representative claims that I have to pay the HKD0.04/KB when I clearly told her that I was on a 3G plan, plus she had my account opened in front of her.

[Update: 12:00, June 26, 2009] Added the instructions to enable to the "Cellular Data Network" option within the Network settings pane.

How to Enable MMS on iPhone 3.0

  1. Ensure you have a 3G plan with your mobile carrier. A data plan is not necessary with regards to MMS.
  2. Ensure the carrier had not blocked the MMS function from your account. In Hong Kong most carriers would not do so, unless you request them to do so.
  3. On your iPhone go to the Settings -> General -> Network -> Cellular Data Network settings and input the MMS settings specific for your carrier. The exact values for each of the fields will depends on your carrier. Do not worry if your carrier representative tells you that they do not support the iPhone. Be assertive and obtain the MMS settings: APN, Username, Password and MMSC. Most carriers would not have a Username or Password.

    If you do not see the "Cellular Data Network" option within the Settings -> General -> Network settings you can do one of the following depending on which OS you're on.

    Operating System Steps
    OS X
    1. Close iTunes.
    2. Start the Terminal (found in the /Applications/Utilities folder).
    3. Execute the command:
      defaults write com.apple.iTunes carrier-testing -bool TRUE
    Windows 32-bit
    1. Close iTunes.
    2. Go to Start then Run and type CMD.
    3. Execute the command:
      “C:Program FilesiTunesiTunes.exe” /setPrefInt carrier-testing 1
    Windows 64-bit
    1. Close iTunes.
    2. Go to Start then Run and type CMD.
    3. Execute the command:
      “C:Program Files (x86)iTunesiTunes.exe” /setPrefInt carrier-testing 1

    The following are the settings. Note that the APN is case sensitive.

    Carrier Settings
    Smartone-Vodafone APN = smartone-vodafone MMSC = http://mms.smartone-vodafone.com/server MMS Proxy = 10.9.9.9
    PCCW 3G APN = pccw MMSC = http://3gmms.pccwmobile.com:8080/was MMS Proxy = 10.140.14.10:8080
    PCCW 2G APN = pccwmms MMSC = http://mmsc.mms.pccwmobile.com:8002 MMS Proxy = 10.131.2.8:8080
    3 HK APN = mobile.three.com.hk MMSC = http://172.20.99.240:10021/mmsc Username = 3 Password = 1234 MMS Proxy = 172.020.097.116:8799
    CSL APN = hkcsl MMSC = http://192.168.58.171:8002 MMS Proxy = 192.168.59.51:8080
    New World APN = mms MMSC = http://mmsc.nwmobility.com:8002 MMS Proxy = 192.168.111.1
    Peoples APN = peoples.mms MMSC = http://mms.peoples.com.hk/mms MMS Proxy = 172.031.031.036:8080
    CTM Macau APN = ctmprepaid MMSC = http://mms.wap.ctm.net:8002 MMS Proxy = 192.168.99.3:8080
    CTM Macau (non-prepaid SIM) APN = ctmmms MMSC = http://mms.wap.ctm.net:8002 MMS Proxy = 192.168.99.3:8080 MMS Max Message Size = 307200
    China Unicom 3G (China) APN = uniwap MMSC = http://mmsc.myuni.com.cn MMS Proxy = 10.0.0.172
    • The "MMS Max Message Size" settings is optional but Smartone-Vodafone has a size limit of 307200 (300KB) where they charge HKD3.00/MMS.
    • For the PCCW settings you may want to try it first without the MMS Proxy settings.
  4. After these information are entered, you will need to restart your iPhone. Hold the Power button until the slider comes up asking you to slide to the right to shutdown the iPhone. Go ahead and shutdown your iPhone and then restart it.
  5. When the iPhone had restarted, on your iPhone go to the Settings -> Messages settings and ensure MMS is turned on. You can optionally turn on "Show Subject Field" if you like.

You should see an extra Camera icon when you compose a message in the Messages (previously known as "SMS") application.

In the Photo album application you will see an extra option to share your photo via MMS.

Please feel free to leave settings for your respective carriers in the comments and I will update the table above.

Netvigator Logo pccw This evening (20:52) my girlfriend received a call on her mobile from PCCW Netvigator telephone salesperson. Like in most cases when one receive this sort of unsolicited telephone call, she simply told the salesperson on the phone that she does not have time to talk, which was the case this evening, as she was at a friend's house.

Instead of giving up and move on to the next "victim" on their call list, the salesperson calls her back and said, "... I was not calling to give you an offer, but if I was I would not offer it to you.", then hung up.

First of all these sorts of calls are unsolicited and I would consider them to be SPAM calls. I will be writing to OFTA to file a formal complaint of PCCW Netvigator salesperson's attitudes. Of course, PCCW's salespersons are already famous in Hong Kong for having one of the worst customer facing attitudes so that is not too surprising.

I wish OFTA would have an ordinance like the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Ordinance for regular telephone calls.

Posted
AuthorVinko
Categoriesopinion

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.

Three HK logoThere was a report last night that the iPhone 3G sold by the carrier, Three, in Hong Kong is unlocked; meaning it is not tied to a specific carrier. This news was a bit hard to believe as news from other countries like US, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, the iPhone 3G sold there are all locked to the respective mobile carriers.

Therefor, if you do not want to stick with Three's service you now have a choice, but the cheapest choice is:

HKD4680.00 + HKD188 x 24 months + MTR Fee (HKD12 x 24) = HKD9480.00 - HKD1742 = HKD7738 (including the rebate you will receive over 2 years)

Three HK Tariff in HKD

Now I have first hand confirmation from a friend who purchased one of these iPhone 3G at Three HK. He was able to put in a PCCW SIM card while having full access to all functionalities of the phone including EDGE and GPRS functions.

Is this really worth it. I say not, especially if you already have an iPhone (1st generation). Wait for the other carriers in Hong Kong; namely PCCW and/or Smartone-Vodafone receive the rights to sell the iPhone 3G.

Repost from: Vinko's Satellite Blog

Netvigator

For those who do not know, "Netvigator" is the ISP (Internet Service Provider) owned and operated by PCCW of Hong Kong. Like many ISP now a days, Netvigator offers a series of different broadband packages.

I subscribe to their "8M Single User" plan, which means a "8Mbps service". Like all ISP, that 8Mbps (8 Mega bits per second) throughput is a theoretical maxium download speed, which no one would ever achieve due to the various variables that would effect the actual throughput.

According to the technician at Netvigator Technical Support and the one that came to check my setup. With a 8M service plan the realistic throughput is about 80% - 90% of what's listed. This equates to about 6554Kbps down stream(download speed) and approximately 819Kbps up stream (upload speed).

For the past 4 years of subscribing to this service (8M plan) I had never enjoyed a speed of more than 2000Kbps down stream. Plus, I had reported this and they had checked my set up numerous times through out the past 4 years.

Recently I joined Netvigator's NetOne loyalty service, which finally able me to contact their Technical Service hotline 24 hours a day when I encountered connection slow downs. As a result they monitored my Internet connection for a week, and then today came to replace my modem.

As soon as the technician replaced the modem my connection speed improved 3 times. Reaching a down stream speed of 6438Kbps and a up stream speed of 628Kbps.

So the lesson from this is to never believe the ISP when you feel your Internet connection is not up to par. Use analytical results to confirm your suspicions. If possible use the ISP's own test page; in the case of Netvigator you should use their "Network Test" page, to test your connection speed. Failing that use a site like SpeedTest.Net to test your connection.

So go confirm you are receiving the service level you paid for and stop getting ripped off.

Posted
AuthorVinko
Categoriesadvice