3 HK unveils new tariff plans to boost 4G adoption

Fiona Chau
05 Aug 2014

3 HK, the mobile unit of Hutchison Telecom, has introduced a new set of 4G tariff plans in a bid to lure more customers to sign up its LTE services and stem customer loss.

Among the new plans include a 1GB data plan for HK$188 ($24) per month, which allows consumers to try out the plan before signing on.

Jennifer Tan, chief operating officer of Hutchison Telecom, said the one-month data plan is targeting younger consumers who don’t want to tie into a long-term contract.

“Our study shows that there is a great demand for such type of data plan, and this is a trend not only in Hong Kong but also in other countries,” Tan told a media briefing yesterday.

In addition 3 HK has also launched new prepaid plans and top-up 4G options for existing users at prices ranging from HK$38 (200MB for 2 days) to HK$298 (for 3GB).

The announcement comes days after Hutchison Telecom reported a 44% plunge in its first half net profit, blaming the poor performance for the deterioration in the mobile market. Mobile service revenue fell 11% to HK$2,348 million, and blended ARPU (for postpaid customers) decreased 5.3% to HK$197 from compared with HK$208.

To stem the decline, 3 Hong Kong last month scrapped its HK$81 speed-capped unlimited 3G data plan, after which APRU increased, Tan said.

Tan said the introduction of new tariff plans is aimed at encouraging existing 3G customers to migrate to 4G, and is based on the results of extensive consumer research.

She said 3 HK currently has more 3G customers than 4G, but the average monthly data usage of 4G customers is about 2.5GB, compared to the 1GB of 3G customers. The number of 4G customers for the first half of 2014 increased by more than 15%, compared to 2H2013.

Tan said the company spent HK$220 million on its mobile business in the first half year and the estimated capex for 2014 is about HK$1.3 billion – 50% for mobile and 50% for fixed line.

Apart from the new plans and services, 3 HK will also introduce more diversity of 4G handsets from different handset makers. The company is expected to announce an exclusive partnership with Jolla to launch the Finnish startup’s Sailfish smartphone to Hong Kong next week.

On the network side, 3 HK will introduce carrier aggregation technology to its 1800-MHz and 2600-Mhz LTE networks by year-end, boosting the network speeds to over 200Mbps, according to Daniel Chung, chief technology officer of IT & mobile at Hutchison Telecom.

He said the company will also deploy TDD-LTE technology on the 2300-MHz spectrum by end of 2015 with services expected to launch in 2016.

3HK also plans to deploy small cells in 2016 for indoor coverage and replace traditional base stations from 2016 with Cloud RAN in a bid to cut operational costs, Chung noted.

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