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back to article Hong Kong visitors get all-in-one guidebook and phone

Visitors to Hong Kong’s sub-tropical shores got a welcome boost on Thursday with the launch of a new rental smartphone service designed insulate short stay punters from bill shock and high roaming charges and offer pre-loaded local guides and discount deals. The 'handy' smartphone rental service is the brain child of local tech …

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Calls to mobiles

Presumably the difference is that the countries to which calls to mobiles can be made are "called party pays" countries (I know that the USA is) while the ones to which such calls can't be made are "calling party pays" countries (I know that the UK and much of Europe is).

Can't really blame them. They'd have no chance of staying in business if they had to eat unlimited UK mobile termination charges.

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Silver badge

Re: Calls to mobiles

In the USA (and other places), for mobile calls, the called party pays (via a bill charge or from minutes allowance). In the UK (and other places) it's the calling party that pays.

Is there any particular reason for this, such as legal/cultural/traditional? As a Brit, it just feels 'wrong' to me that the called party should pay for an incoming call.

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Pint

Re: Calls to mobiles

It started out as the phone owner was paying for air time. The US also doesn't have phone numbers that indicate if they are mobile or land line so you can move your old land line number to a cell phone and ditch the copper pair without needing to let everyone know your new number. The system has some advantages and now that air time is almost the same cost as copper pair maintenance, I can see this model showing up as an option as countries reevaluate their number plans.

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Re: Calls to mobiles

For Canada your home phone is flat rate for local calls. The cell phone companies want to charge big money per minute but the land line monopoly (Bell Canada) at the time would not pass the charges on as their deal was for flat rate calls. So the cell companies charge the called party.

It's changed since the early cell phone days, Bell Canada is now one of the biggest cell phone companies, and some cell phone companies now offer home phone and cable TV is added to the mix as they all buy each other. There is no way to know if you are calling a cell phone and you never get charged extra, a local call is a local call, and if the cell phone is out of it's normal area they pay the long distance charges.

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Boffin

Re: Calls to mobiles

The US was the first country to use cell phones, so there were no best practices for them to follow (like not calling them 'cell' phones…). One of the common best practices that the US didn't follow is with numbering: when you signed a cell phone contract, you were assigned a geographical number e.g. if you signed the contract in Houston, your cell number was in the 713 area code.

The advantage was you could get a home and cell number that were very similar (i.e. xxx1 for home, xxx2 for cell). The disadvantage was that callers could not tell if a given number was a cell or not, and thus would be outraged if what they thought was a local call ended up costing them tens of dollars.

The telcos avoided this situation by pushing the increased cost onto the cell phone contract, so that callers would always be charged the same rate for geo-like numbers, and cell phone subscribers would pay to accept calls.

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Re: Calls to mobiles

"Called party pays" is pretty unusual. Probably the restriction on free calls reflects which carriers have agreed to colo their VoIP digiboxs, and the peering arrangements their sales guys have wrangled.

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also provides....

handy tracking for the government of Hong Kong.

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Re: also provides....

Yes this is the first thing that crossed my mind too.

They must be expecting a heavy deposit or they might be in cahoots with the the airline security to not let you leave the country until you've returned the device.

I just wish that someone like Vodafone would stop with this roaming charge crap when it is their network you are on in another country. Madness I tell thee!

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Fai

It's pretty easy to buy a Three PAYG simcard from one of the shops in the airport. Or even easier, any other networks from the 7-11 in the arrivals area. They're pretty cheap, but it does take a bit of wrangling around with the call menus (and instruction booklets) to sort out the unlimited data packages, daily or weekly.

Interestingly enough, I noticed quite a few vending machines in Heathrow T3 selling prepay packages.

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Meh

I frequent HK about 4 times a year, I go to a China Mobile shop and buy an IDD card for 85-100 HK$, for that I can call pretty much anywhere in the world at very cheap prices.

They offer a data plan as well, so maybe another 100 HK$ for a week, you can chose short service - 1 day or longer 3-5 days I think, I usually pick a 5 day setting.

On top of that the sim will work in almost every country in the world and roam, but that is NOT cheap.

If I pop over to mainland China from HK then for .65 HK$ per day I can get a CHINA mainland number for the same sim and have pretty reasonable roaming rates until I return to HK.

There are plenty of options available in HK for a traveller and the phone etc, this one seems to play on the ignorance of the traveller - why would I want to have to learn another device / transfer data to it when I have a perfectly good one already.

I also recall there was an Orange service in HK that was pretty good, but I couldn't find it a couple of years ago so I switched to China Mobile /PWCC.

BTW, Google maps on Andriod allows you to cache where you want to go before you get there, all you have to do is set the option on and then prowl around HK on the map and then it is available offline on your device without needing an expensive data plan.

Happy travels folks,

T.

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