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Communications for Expats in Hong Kong

Submitted: July 2013

When moving to a new country, it is important to research the telephone companies’ plans which are being offered so as to be able to select the one which best suits you. In Hong Kong, mobile communication is relatively cheap in general and coverage is just about universal on the bigger networks, as people generally prefer mobile phones to landline phones. You should try to determine beforehand what you will need your cell phone for and which services you will need.

Like many other countries in the world, most Hong Kong phone companies use the GSM system to provide mobile phone users with cellular compatibility. This means that most likely, you can travel to Hong Kong without having to worry about getting a new cell phone. All you will need to do is purchase a SIM card (prepaid or post-paid) which costs on average HK $200, so as to escape relatively high roaming rates. Notably, phones purchased in some countries from the telephone service provider (UK being one example) may be locked to their home network; these phones however can be unlocked in Hong Kong to operate on any network.

Some of Hong Kong’s more popular mobile phone providers include China Mobile Hong Kong, 3 Hong Kong, SmarTone, CSL Limited and PCCW Mobile. Each offers different services, rates and phones; however they all hold licenses allowing them to provide fourth-generation (4G) cell phone and services. Their customers enjoy mobile TV and internet, among many other multimedia services directly from their cell phones. In addition to these providers listed, there are also several Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) which hold licenses for providing mobile services.

Additionally, before you sign a mobile contract, you should gather information on services you might be charged extra for, and those which are included in the basic fees. These services include:

  • Calls forwarded to your mailbox
  • Unanswered calls
  • Two-party-conference calls
  • Non-peak and peak hour calls
  • Non-network calls
  • Mobile data services

It is important to verify these charges as to avoid astronomical charges. You should note also that some Hong Kong mobile providers charge fees for incoming calls.

If you want the option of landline telephone services, this option is also available. Many providers offer users combo packages which include mobile, landline and internet services; however, despite their modern network and services, not all of Hong Kong’s telephone service providers offer this option in every district. Ensure it is located in your district, before signing anything. Three of the largest service providers include PCCW-HK Telephone – which is regarded as the largest and only one obligated to providing universal service (equal costs in all areas), Hong Kong Telecommunications (HKT) and Hong Kong Cable Television (i-Cable).

Internet access is available almost everywhere in Hong Kong. This is something many newly-arrived expats benefit from as free Wi-Fi service is available at Hong Kong International Airport. This service is also available at some government buildings, public libraries, and coffee shops known as GovWiFi which is an initiative to make internet access available to everyone. Despite this, Hong Kong boasts many internet providers such as Netvigator, Hong Kong Broadband, Pacific Internet, HKNeT, among others. To sign up for internet services, a Hong Kong ID card or your passport along with proof of residence will be required. Charges vary based on providers, location in some cases, and the type of internet packages. Most providers have two tariff options: a monthly standard rate, or charge according to usage. On average, you may expect to pay around HK $195 monthly for standard 6Mbps, unlimited internet access.

If you are interested in sending and receiving post, locally or internationally for work or business via Hong Kong post office, it is safe to say that process is generally unproblematic, reliable, efficient and reasonably priced. More information on posting is available on the Hong Kong Government website fact sheet, which is provided by the following link. - https://www.gov.hk/en/about/abouthk/factsheets/docs/hk_post.pdf

 

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