Ofta probes CSL's claims over mobile download speeds

Robert Clark
30 Jul 2009

Hong Kong's telecom regulator Ofta has stepped into a dispute between two of the city's wireless operators over mobile broadband speeds.

Smartone CEO Douglas Li told a press conference yesterday that CSL's Express 21 HSPA modem service did not reach anywhere near the 21Mbps download speed claimed.

Li said that tests by Smartone staff around the city had achieved speeds of between 2Mbps to 7Mbps. Before the media yesterday the device reached download speeds of 1.4Mbps in Wanchai and a peak of 3.9Mbps in Central, scmp.comreported.

"No matter the time and place, they cannot boost the performance to anywhere near their claimed speed of 21Mbps," Li said, saying that it was a "misrepresentation" that harmed the whole industry.

Telstra-owned CSL said in a statement that independent tests "conducted this year on all mobile broadband networks in Hong Kong" supported CSL's advertising claims, including the claim that its HSPA network is "typically two to three times faster than other mobile broadband networks."

The USB modem uses a Qualcomm 21Mbps chip that is sold only to CSL and its parent Telstra, the company said.

CSL's head of regulatory and corporate affairs, David Aitken, said: "The question that needs to be asked of other mobile operators is 'how fast is your network all over Hong Kong‾', not just a few sites in the golden bowl, but all over the Hong Kong territory.

"Any testing of mobile broadband speeds needs to be across all operators and queried for thoroughness, methodology and independence - self serving internal testing of only a few sites is obviously unreliable.

"Smartone's behavior reminds me of the Chinese proverb"&brkbar;."˜those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those doing it'."

A spokesperson for Ofta said it was investigating the matter under section 7M of the telecommunications ordinance, which outlaws deceptive claims in promotion.

The broadcast industry regulator, the Broadcast Authority, is also investigating the matter.

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