Consumers travelling overseas reminded to beware of unexpected mobile data roaming charges

     The Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) today (December 18) reminded consumers to be cautious about the use of mobile data roaming services while travelling overseas during the upcoming festive season so as to avoid incurring unexpectedly high mobile data roaming charges, i.e. mobile bill shock.

     "With the increasing popularity of 3G/4G mobile devices and services in recent years, consumers may use mobile data roaming services when travelling abroad. Irrespective of the types of mobile devices (such as smartphones, tablets, handheld computers or USB dongles) they use for web browsing or Internet applications, consumers should be reminded that charges for mobile data roaming services are much higher than those for local mobile data services. Rapid downloading of large files may also cause unexpectedly large volume of data consumption and result in a hefty bill or mobile bill shock," a spokesman for OFCA said.

     For consumers' peace of mind and to avoid mobile bill shock while travelling outside Hong Kong, OFCA advises consumers to consider adopting the following measures:

     If mobile data roaming service is not required while travelling outside Hong Kong, consumers may:

* switch off both the mobile data service and data roaming service functions on their mobile devices before leaving Hong Kong;
* request their operators to temporarily deactivate the mobile data services before departure (some operators also allow deactivation of mobile data roaming services while keeping voice roaming intact); and
* double-check that the mobile data service function on their mobile devices is in the switch-off mode whenever they restart the devices.

     If mobile data roaming service is required while travelling outside Hong Kong, consumers may:

* check with their operators on the availability of mobile data roaming services and roaming partners in the destination as well as details of the service plans before departure;
* switch off the automatic (background) update functions of their mobile devices, such as the function for updating emails, applications and firmware, etc;
* check data usage regularly through the function on the mobile devices;
* check frequently to ensure that their mobile devices are not switched to mobile data services while they are using the Wi-Fi system for accessing the Internet;
* consider purchasing a local pre-paid SIM card at the destination; and
* consider using a data roaming day pass with a charge ceiling or flat rate in certain destinations.

     "In some circumstances, such as upon entry into their destinations, consumers may receive notifications generated by individual mobile applications or greeting and promotional messages from the destination roaming operator or the home network operator. Some of these messages may provide instructions that guide the consumers to select their suggested services. Consumers should be alert to the fact that once they follow the provided instructions, mobile data connection would be activated, and that may incur for them exorbitant data roaming charges," the spokesman said.

     Additional consumer alerts on smart use of mobile data roaming services and data roaming day pass can be accessed via the following links:

Ends/Thursday, December 18, 2014
Issued at HKT 16:05