Having resigned myself to the likely fact that PCCW won’t run a wire to my house for longer than I care to think about, I went and got myself a mobile data account with SmarTone.
First things first, I went to the Wanchai Computer Centre to see if I could buy a 4G USB modem at a cheaper price than SmarTone’s. Turns out the WCC was $100 more expensive. What I did see there, that I hadn’t seen previously, was a 4G Router – you put the SIM card directly into the router, as opposed to the router I bought, that has a USB port that allows one to run it off a USB modem.
At any rate, over to SmarTone to get set up. Their signal seems to be much stronger where I live.
You have to admire companies that use technology well. Go to a 3 shop and you’ll see a bunch of people sitting behind desks typing customer info into computers. Go to a SmarTone shop and the staff are standing at podiums. As for info on a product and they whip out an iPad and show you all the details. Sign up with them and they don’t have to type in all your data – the guy used his iPhone camera to scan my ID card and address proof and then OCR software grabbed the details and populated the form appropriately.
And no paper. I signed the contract with my finger on the iPad. No paper receipt. As soon as I signed and clicked okay, the receipt was emailed to me. Sweet.
So once at home, I got everything set up and saw via SpeedTest that I was getting download speeds of up to 20 Mbps. This is huge for me, because in 5 years in Sai Kung I had an 8 Mbps line (which is all PCCW can give me in Lam Tsuen, too) and of course never got that kind of speed in real usage. Mobile data wasn’t an option at either of the places I lived in Sai Kung because I could barely get a 2G signal let alone 3G or 4G.
Well, it’s not all smiles. Because it took me less than 24 hours to hit the 5 gig mark and get an SMS telling me that for the rest of the month – 25 more days – my “priority to access the network” would be lowered but that they guaranteed that my speed would not go below 128 Kbps. 128k? Be still my bleeding heart.
At the moment (12:18 AM) Speedtest is reporting download speed is roughly 6.5 Mbps, down 50% or more from the speed I was getting earlier today. To be fair, earlier today, my village was probably 2/3rds empty with people at work and now could be prime internet time here, with people doing all sorts of stuff before hitting the sack. And, if I’m in the mood to be fair (actually no I’m not) then I could say that 6.5 Mbps is still double what I was getting with PCCW.
In my opinion, “unlimited data” needs to be “unlimited data without any fine print or asterisks.” The only people who benefit from the so-called Fair Usage Data Policy are the mobile companies; certainly not the public.
And if their networks are creaking at the seams because they couldn’t build fast enough to handle all the demand for streaming High Definition multimedia, is that my fault?
I’d also suggest that they need to adjust the numbers for subscribers who either cannot get a fixed line from PCCW or choose not to do so and are using wireless as their sole means of Internet access. I know, it’s probably a small percentage of users (but probably growing) but that should make it all the easier to provide for them/us/me. And honestly, if it’s a choice between HK$220 a month throttled at 5 gig or pay some higher amount, let’s say an additional 50%, for really unlimited data, I’d pay the extra amount.