The basics
Hong Kong: Once you arrive - Must read

Setting up broadband and phone services in Hong Kong

Cable provide a simple guide for international students arranging broadband internet and phone services once they've arrived in Hong Kong...

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Hong Kong’s iconic skyline and importance as a global centre of trade and commerce makes the city a shining beacon that attracts international students from across the world. The city has more skyscrapers than any other, and while it’s one of the most expensive places in the world to live, it also offers some amazing opportunities for students.

 

Whether you’re in Hong Kong to study the culture or the bustling world of business, it’s certain that you’ll want to access the internet and keep in touch with friends and family back home. It can be difficult to set up telecommunication services when coming to a new country to study, but there’s no need to worry. Here is everything you need to know about setting up broadband and mobile while studying in Hong Kong.

 

How do I get a mobile, landline or broadband deal in Hong Kong?

International students looking to sign up for a mobile, landline or broadband deal in Hong Kong will be subject to checks against their credit history. You don’t need to establish a new credit rating while in Hong Kong; your rating from home will be checked. This is great news if you have a good credit rating, but if you don’t there are ways to get around this problem, such as pay-as-you-go mobile plans from local providers, or international calling cards.

There are dozens of broadband and mobile providers in Hong Kong. Luckily, many of the local providers have websites in English, so if you’re rusty on your Cantonese, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a great deal. Finally, to join a broadband provider, you’ll need either a Hong Kong ID card or your international passport, along with proof of residence.

 

 

Who can I get broadband from in Hong Kong?

The most popular broadband provider in Hong Kong is PCCW Netvigator. This provider offers wireless and fibre-to-the-home broadband for high-speed connections of up to 1000Mbps downstream and upstream. With a speed of 1000Mbps, you could download 5000 photographs in less than a minute, making it perfect for high-volume research projects.

Other popular broadband providers include the Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) and Hutchison Global Communications broadband, both of which have English language websites and offer high-speed, fibre optic broadband. Getting home broadband in Hong Kong isn’t cheap, however. As an alternative, you may consider taking advantage of the many public Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the city.

From the moment you land you can get online. Hong Kong International Airport offers free Wi-Fi for everyone, and that’s not the only place you can get online for free – public libraries, government buildings, and many coffee shops (look for the GovWiFi network) also provide free wireless internet. Broadband providers also supply Wi-Fi hotspots, and the most popular provider, PCCW Netvigator, has thousands dotted around the city, in restaurants, shopping arcades, colleges and universities.

 

 

What’s the best way for me to call home from Hong Kong?

One of the most expensive ways to stay in touch with those back home is to use your existing mobile handset and SIM. Roaming rates are pricey, and a single phone call could set you back a considerable amount. It’s much better – and far more cost-effective – to get a new handset or SIM from a local Hong Kong provider. There’s no lack of choice, as there are several mobile providers for international students to consider.

China Mobile Hong Kong has mobile tariffs on both the 3G and 4G networks, and offers handsets along with pay-monthly and pay-as-you-go (prepaid) SIMs. Three Mobile is another provider that may be familiar to many students travelling from the UK. It also offers plans on the 4G network. Finally, PCCW Netvigator also supplies mobile deals, including tariffs specifically designed for making calls to international destinations and for roaming in Mainland China.

Another cheap way to stay in touch with family is to buy a prepaid international calling card. These are available online and from local convenience stores and allow you to make a certain number of calls to international numbers for a reduced rate. For an even cheaper option, you can use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software, such as Skype. This involves making calls over the internet and is entirely free if the recipient is also using the same VoIP software.

 

 

What are my rights as a consumer in Hong Kong?

Consumer rights aren’t quite as well-established as they are in the EU and USA, but you’re still protected when you purchase either a mobile plan or broadband service. The Office of Communications Authority (OFCA) is in charge of regulating the telecoms industry in Hong Kong, and should be your first stop if you ever run into trouble with your mobile or broadband provider. OFCA runs a customer complaint settlement scheme for the telecoms industry, which aims at resolving billing disputes between telecommunication providers and customers.

Internet censorship isn’t as widespread as it is in neighbouring countries, thanks to the law pertaining to freedom of expression in the Hong Kong Bill of Rights. This means you can access most of the same websites you could while at home.

 

 

Is there anything else I should know?

Just like London in the UK, Hong Kong has a dedicated travel card for those who frequently travel throughout the city. It’s called the Octopus Card, and is an essential purchase if you want to navigate the city stress-free. If you get an Octopus Card and end up misplacing it, you can always call Hong Kong’s charmingly named Missing Octopus Helpline from your home phone or mobile.

 

 

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About Author

Luke Thompson is a copywriter for Cable.co.uk. When not writing about broadband and mobile, you can find him performing poetry in Birmingham or lounging around a darkened bar with a glass of whisky. He asks you to excuse his hair.