14 Feb 2012
The reversal indicates that Hong Kong’s hypercompetitive market is pressuring cellcos to keep unlimited plans in place at least until everyone is willing to drop them, although it’s worth mentioning that CSL – which already has volume-based packages in effect – has said since last year that it intends to phase out its unlimited data option by the end of 2012.
According to CMO Mark Liversidge, CSL won’t accelerate that timetable because “our customers need more time to understand their data usage behavior before moving to volume based plans”.
Meanwhile, CSL, SmarTone and 3 HK said they would implement their FUPs via “network priority management in real time”, under which customers who exceed 5GB a month – whether on unlimited or volume-based plans – will be given “lower priority to access the network for the remainder of that billing period”.
Just what “lower priority” means isn’t clear, though the cellcos stress it doesn’t mean users who exceed 5GB a month won’t be able to get online. From the CSL and SmarTone releases:
Customers continue to have unlimited access to the network without any additional charges on unlimited or capped plans, without speed throttling, or switching off of their service. The broadband experience may be affected, when the traffic generated by broadband customers on a specific cell is extremely high. However, customers should see no impact to common internet usage, but may feel some impact on data rich applications such as high volume Peer-to-Peer services. Under normal cell conditions, customers will be able to continue to enjoy its regular broadband service.
The cellcos will also give customers advance warning when they are about to cross the “lower priority” threshold, which is a condition of the FUP rules.