December 15, 2003

3G Mobiles

Phil points out the latest in HK's obession with mobile phones:

The number of mobile phone accounts in Hong Kong has topped 6.9 million, exceeding the city's population for the first time as cellular operators continue to cut prices. Cell phone accounts, including prepaid phone cards, increased by 183,000 in October. The 2.7 per cent increase brings the total number of accounts to 6.94 million, according to the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (Ofta). This gave Hong Kong a penetration rate of 102 per cent, the regulator said.
There are examples everywhere of HK's mobile disease. Like today, when I was in the bathroom at work. Someone's phone went. They had a conversation. They stayed in their cubicle. After a few more minutes they still hadn't left. What in the world is so important that you need your mobile phone in the toilet? That's what toilets are for: a haven from the outside world for a few minutes of electronic free peace and quiet. At least it used to be.

So co-incidently two things happened today in the mobile world. Firstly from the SCMP this:

Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa planned to kick off its local third-generation (3G) mobile telecommunications services next month, the company's managing director Canning Fok said on Monday...The company set the price of new 3G handsets at HK$4,380 (US$560) and monthly subscription fees at HK$238 to HK$558 dollars, Mr Fok said.

Universal mobile telecommunications system (UMTS), commonly known as 3G technology, allows users to gain high-speed Internet access, send and receive e-mails, see video images of people they are talking to, take photographs with the handsets and play electronic games.

At the same time there was this from Australia, where 3G has existed for some time:
Hutchison Telecommunications is considering its legal options over a survey highly critical of the company's multi-billion dollar "3" third-generation (3G) mobile phone network.

The mobile phone company said the survey, which claimed to have found a low level of customer satisfaction with the new network, was "of its nature, designed to deliver a critical outcome".

The Australian Computer Society survey comes at a bad time for Hutchison, which is already suffering handset shortages during the crucial Christmas period.

The original article is here. If you want some first hand accounts of how bad it can get try this, the follow up here and here. You must read these articles if you are thinking about these phones. Let me give you a sample:
Hutchison's spin-doctors will quickly discount this stinging experience as a one-off. However given that 95% of the 20+ plus 3 customers I have encountered share my deeply disappointing experience, perhaps they would be well advised to reflect on the facts as opposed to resorting to spin.

All I can deduce from my experience and research is a systemic, widespread and potentially terminal case of 3 customer dissatisfaction. Not only is it the extent of the dissatisfaction but the strength with which it is held. One unhappy 3 customer told me that legal advice suggested that the case for class action to demand full refunds was strong. A different 3 customer suggested starting some "anti-3 activism".

Clearly, Hutchison have some issues. But relying on the oft-repeated excuse about early stage 'teething problems' wears thin extremely quickly (did they simply launch prematurely?) and is of no consolation to deeply frustrated customers - customers that the market deserves to know about.

You've been warned.

Posted by Simon at December 15, 2003 03:56 PM | TrackBack


Or "Crack"Berry as they are known to be called. Wait until email is available in the cubicle. Some people may never leave!

Posted by: kennycan at December 17, 2003 09:03 AM
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