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Hong Kong operator keeps unlimited data plan, clarifies fair usage policy

CSL will keep its unlimited data plans for now to familiarize customers on their data usage; clarifies fair usage policy.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Hong Kong mobile operator CSL says it will maintain its unlimited data plans before it moves fully to volume-based pricing and will apply real-time network priority management for all its users.

In a statement Monday, Mark Liversidge, chief marketing officer for CSL, said the company had decided to delay its plans to scrape unlimited data plans by the end of 2012 as customers "needed more time to understand their data usage behavior before moving to volume based plans". CSL will continue to offer unlimited local data plans through its 1O1O and one2free brands, said the statement.

According to the executive, CSL will continue to provide tools for its customers to inform them of how much data they use. "Armed with that knowledge, they'll be able to choose the volume-based plan that best suits their requirements and maximizes the value benefit, said Liversidge.

The company also clarified its fair usage policy, noting that it will apply network priority management in real time to "ensure fair network access for all customers”. When customers on either the unlimited or capped data plan reach 5GB of local data fair usage within a single billing period, they will be given lower priority to access the network for the rest of the billing period, said the statement.

CSL added that customers who have reached the 5GB limit will "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 mobile operator also noted that its customers' broadband experience may be affected when the traffic generated by on a specific cell is extremely high. While users should not see any impact on their common Internet usage, data rich applications such as peer-to-peer services can be affected.

The operator's clarification was in response to guidelines set by the Hong Kong's Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) on Nov. 9 2011. Among the guidelines set by the regulator were the need for operators to clarify what "unlimited" data plans meant if fair usage policy applied as well as the need for operators to provide advance notice to customers with excessive usage before triggering the fair usage policy and provide detailed record of data usage upon request.

OFTA's spokesperson added: "Service providers offering unlimited plans without qualifications must ensure that their networks are equipped with sufficient capacity so that they are truly capable of providing unlimited services to the relevant customers.

"Otherwise, they may risk contravening the guidelines and section 7M of the Telecommunications Ordinance, which prohibits licensees from engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct in providing telecommunications services," he said.

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