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Beware of unexpected mobile data roaming charges when travelling abroad
     The Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) today (December 14) reminded consumers to be cautious about the use of mobile data roaming services while travelling abroad during the forthcoming festive season so as to avoid "mobile bill shock", i.e. unexpectedly high mobile data roaming charges.

     "Smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices are essentials for most consumers when they travel outside Hong Kong nowadays. Irrespective of the types of mobile devices they use, consumers are reminded that when accessing mobile data service outside Hong Kong, they will incur mobile data roaming charges which could be a lot more expensive than local mobile data charges. In addition, downloading large files/video clips, video streaming, access to mobile online games and automatic update of applications (apps) may consume an unexpectedly large volume of mobile data and result in a hefty bill," a spokesman for the OFCA said.

     For peace of mind when travelling abroad, the OFCA advises consumers to consider adopting the following measures:

     If the mobile data roaming service is not required, consumers may:
  • before leaving Hong Kong, disable both the mobile data service and data roaming service functions on their mobile devices; and
  • request their operators to temporarily suspend the mobile data roaming service before departure (some operators allow suspension of mobile data roaming service while keeping voice roaming intact).

     If the mobile data roaming service is required, consumers may:
  • before departure, check with their operators the availability of mobile data roaming services and roaming partners of their choice available at the destination, as well as the details of the service charges;
  • consider choosing a charge-capped data roaming service plan;
  • when choosing a daily-rated data roaming service plan (day pass), be mindful of how the daily rate is charged, by checking its starting and ending time, whether the same charge applies to all destinations, and whether the plan is only applicable to a designated network;
  • consider hiring pocket Wi-Fi devices or purchasing pre-paid SIM cards that can be used at the destination;
  • while accessing the Internet or using apps via a Wi-Fi connection, check frequently to ensure that mobile devices are not switched to mobile data services; and
  • to avoid accidental use of mobile data roaming service, consider (a) deactivating the auto download or auto play functions for multi-media contents in some apps, especially social media apps; and (b) switching off the automatic update functions for emails, apps and other software.

     "In some circumstances, such as upon arrival at the destination, consumers may receive notifications generated by individual mobile apps, or greetings and promotional messages from the destination roaming operator or the home network operator, some of which may provide instructions that guide the consumers to select their suggested services. Consumers should be alert before responding to such instructions or clicking the hyperlinks provided, as mobile data connection may consequently be activated and high data roaming charges may be incurred as a result," the spokesman added.

     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 14, 2017
Issued at HKT 10:00
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