Mobile Phone/IDD Service Questions

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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    49

    Mobile Phone/IDD Service Questions

    Coming from the Philippines where available choices of cell phone services/plans are much less, the glut of plans available in Hong Kong simply boggle my mind. I hope kind citizens of Geoexpat will help me by answering some questions:

    1. Am I bound to an IDD service depending on the mobile phone service I’m using. E.g., PCCW uses IDD 0060 but can I register with 1010’s IDD 1718 or other available IDD service?

    2. If I make a long distance call using an IDD service, aside from paying for the service charges will the call minutes be counted against my monthly call allowance as well or is it independent of each other?

    3. Can I use international phone cards with my cell phone? Will it be counted against my voice call allowance?

    4. Any suggestions on the best IDD service for calls to the Philippines/Manila?

    5. I noticed a lot of “intra” and “inter” prefix for SMS but not for voice calls. Does this mean voice call allowance is regardless of the service provider; i.e., if I’m using PCCW with an allowance of 1000 minutes per month, I can use these minutes to call 1010, Smartone, Three, etc.?

    6. There are choices for 3G, 2G and 2.5G service plans. I know they are data service but any reason why plans are based on the data service? Here in Manila, I use Globe service. I automatically have access to 3G/2G/2.5G/GPRS/WAP depending on the unit I’m using not on the service. Does this mean that if I subscribe to a 3G service and I replace my phone with a non-3G one, I won’t have access to data service?

    Thanks in advance for all the responses.


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Hong Kong
    Posts
    23,217

    1. Yes - the two are independent. There are dozens of postpaid IDD services to chose from, as well as prepaid calling cards.

    2. Yes - it uses airtime as well as the IDD charge. But nearly everybody buys a package from their mobile provider which is a fixed price for more minutes of airtime than they are likely to use (e.g. $100/month mobile plan might get you 800-1000 mins per month).

    3. Yes. Again it uses local airtime, but that's unlikely to be an issue.

    4. Unfortunately, because the Philippines telecoms business is a corrupt cartel there is not much room for competition. Whichever IDD provider you use will have to pay 80%+ of the call charge to the Philippines telco for terminating the call. Rates from HK mobiles to Philippines (fixed or mobile) tend to be around HK$1.18-HK$1.40 per minute. You can get prepaid phonecards which appear to offer better deals (50 minutes for $50, for example) but you only get that if you use the phone card in one long call. Otherwise you get per connection fees, surcharges and so on which take the effective rate below that of the postpaid services. PCCW0060 is probably the biggest IDD provider here. I think their rates to the Philippines are around HK$1.24-$1.28/min. IDT1529 has a number of happy customers here I think. Their rate is HK$1.18/min when calling from HK mobile. You can sign up simply online with a credit card, you get billed monthly in arrears and the card is charged 14 days after you get your bill. You get $28 credit to try it just for signing up.

    5. Yes, although many plans also have much larger allowances for intra-network call minutes than inter-network.

    6. If you have a 3G SIM then it will work in a 2 or 2.5G phone and I believe you will get 2 or 2.5G data service. If you get a 2 or 2.5G SIM then you won't get 3G access even if you put it in a 3G capable phone.

    In addition, many Filipinos here carry a phone from their home network in the Philippines in order that their friends there can continue to send them SMS free of charge (unlimited intra-SMS packages). Some even have a Globe phone and a Smart phone here to cover all their friends! But you need to remember to send the texts back from your HK phone. If you are doing a lot of international texting then you should shop around for the best price. The default seems to be HK$1.5/SMS but $1 is available I think. There is also a PCCW prepaid SIM which has HK$0.5/SMS to the Philippines, but I'm not sure how competitive the other charges are. If you have Globe and Smart phones here then you can get top up vouchers in the Filipino shops in Worldwide House and elsewhere. You also have the option of using IDT's Versaload service which transfers credit from their Tawag Na prepaid phonecard to any Smart, Globe or Sun mobile, even when roaming (so you can keep yourself or any of your friends/family topped up). The card can also be used for phone calls obviously.


  3. #3

    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    49

    Thanks a lot for the helpful response. These are just the information i need.