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Why Getting Online Abroad Is Still So Costly

As indicated in my last post, Hong Kong has the best ICT infrastructure and access to Internet is basically ubiquitous. In fact, the cost for Internet access in Hong Kong is also almost the lowest, especially the cost for mobile Internet access. There are basically 2 types of mobile Internet access in Hong Kong, WiFi and 3G (including GPRS). We can get access to the Internet any time at (almost) any places free of charge or at very low cost.

However, the story is very much different when we are outside Hong Kong.  Getting online overseas is still very inconvenient and costly (through data roaming or pay a very high premium for using the local data service there).  As mobile Internet devices (such as iPhone or Android phones) are more and more commonly used nowadays and there are more and more useful apps developed with the purpose to help people travel, access to Internet overseas (e.g. during travel) is as needed as in one’s local country. For example, “Google Translate” can be very useful in helping people speaking different languages to communicate, but the translation has to take place with Internet access. Google map is another very useful application to help people to move around in unfamiliar places, only if mobile Internet access is available.

As far as I know, Hong Kong is the most tourist friendly place as far as mobile Internet access is concerned. People (including visitors) can simply buy a prepaid phone and data usage SIM card (from 3HK for example) for less than two hundred dollars, covering unlimited mobile data usage within a month (HK$168 top). I think this is certainly good for the tourist industry and can also better promote Hong Kong as an international business meeting place.

With MID’s become more and more widespread use nowadays, I hope that other countries (especially the ones with most tourists, such as Japan) would also make their mobile Internet access more “visitor friendly” soon. Otherwise, this would become a bottle-neck for the further development in the utilization of ICT.

Posted in Life, technology.


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