Hong Kong Prepaid GSM and Mobile Data Options

After finding out that my trusty HTC Desire Z won’t give me 3G speeds in Hong Kong I might try one of the 2G data providers first and see if I can live at 2G speeds again. If it’s unbearable I might pick-up an unlocked Android that supports the 2100 band while I’m there. It’ll be good for that trip and my trip to the UK this year. I don’t really travel to Asia and Europe often enough to justify it, but the geek in me really wants the tech cred.

Hong Kong Prepaid SIM Cards - HK Skyline

My first stop for research into Hong Kong SIM providers is, or course, prepaidgsm.net. They’ve got great up-to-date information with active forums that helped me get hooked up in Italy last year.  According to their Hong Kong Page the options are:

  • HK CSL
  • 3 Hutchison Telekom
  • SmarTone Vodaphone
  • China Mobile Peoples Telephone
  • PCCW

Of these only the last 3 show support for 2G data on their websites. China mobile shows 2G data only. SmarTone and has monthly 2G and 3G packages, but I’m not sure if they are available on prepaid plans.  PCCW has 2G and 3G addons to prepaid. [Feb 7 2011 update: I’m told that PCCW does not allow data plans to be added to pre-paid plans]. I’m not sure if the 3G data offerings of the others will allow for access on GPRS/EDGE.

In case you’re not sure of the difference, most dual and tri band GSM phones will work for voice and GPRS/EDGE almost anywhere in the world, but high speed 3G data operates at different frequencies depending on where you are. 3G is substantially faster. In Hong Kong 3G operates at the 2100 band (different than the US T-Mobile 2100 band).

Once upon a time I looked up the typical real world speeds for mobile data. The original source page no longer exists, but this is what I have been using:

  • 2G GPRS: 54 kbit/s
  • 2G EDGE: 180 kbit/s
  • 3G UMTS: 384 kbit/s
  • 3G HSDPA: 400-700 kbit/s

HK CSL

The HK CSL site has an area for visitors that basically tells you to turn on international roaming and to use their network. Ouch. Looking at their Consumers page shows that they have three main sub-brands: 1010, one2free, and New World Mobility. 1010 didn’t seem to have a prepaid options and I couldn’t quite make out what the prepaid options were for New World Mobility.

One2free website shows a One2free and a CSL prepaid plan:

One2free Local Prepaid

  • HK$48 and HK$78 cards
  • Local calls (9:00pm-11:59am) HK$0.05/min
  • Local calls (noon-8:59pm) HK$0.12/min
  • Intra-network SMS HK$0.1
  • Inter-network SMS HK$0.7
  • International SMS HK$1.8
  • No Data rates given

One2Free IDD & Roaming

  • HK$60 and HK$98 cards
  • Local calls HK$0.25/min
  • International calls FREE + local airtime rate
  • Intra-network SMS HK$0.1
  • Inter-network SMS HK$0.7
  • International SMS HK$1.8
  • 3G Data 1 day pass HK$50
  • 3G data 5 day pass HK$178
  • 3G data 30 day pass HK$788

CSL Power Prepaid SIM

  • HK$88 and HK$180 cards
  • Local calls HK$0.1/min
  • International Direct Dial (Canada and US) HK$0.18/min
  • Intra-network SMS HK$0.2
  • Inter-network SMS HK$0.8
  • International SMS HK$3
  • 3G Data 1 day pass HK$50
  • 3G data 5 day pass HK$178
  • 3G data 30 day pass HK$788

 

3HK

3G Super Value Monthly Fee Rechargable SIM Card

  • HK$98
  • Local voice calls HK$0.3/min – or HK$68/680min/30days plan (0.1/min).
  • Intra-network SMS HK$1 or free with monthly voice plan
  • Inter-network SMS HK$0.4
  • International SMS HK$2
  • 3G data  HK$2 /MB (HK$28/day cap HK$388/month cap)

3G International Roaming Rechargable SIM Card

  • HK$98 (+HK$52 voice bonus and HK$55 multimedia bonus on activation)
  • Local calls HK$0.3/min
  • Inter-network SMS HK$0.2
  • Inter-network SMS HK$0.7
  • International SMS HK$1.8
  • 3G data  HK$2 /MB (HK$28/day cap HK$388/month cap)

There is also an HSDPA plan called HDSPA Broadband Access Rechargable SIM that can be purchased in HK$68/98/298 denominations. These offer SMS and Data and are intended to be used in USB data modems. The local data rate is the same, but data roaming is available at HK$0.11/KB . According to a discussion forum at prepaidgsmthe card has been known to work a Nokia E71.

SmarTone Vodaphone

SmarTone has voice specific prepaid SIM plans, as well as 2G and 3G data plans. 3G starts at HK$38 for 50MB and is HK$15/15MB thereafter with a HK$298 cap. 2G starts at HK$600 for 60MB and is HK$0.02/KB after that with no limit. It is not clear if these plans can be added to prepaid SIM plans.

ValueTalk SIM Card

  • HK$68
  • Local calls (1-50mins) HK$0.15/min
  • Local calls (51-300mins) HK$0.1/min
  • Local calls (above 300mins) HK$0.2/min
  • International calls (Canada & US) HK$1.28/min
  • Inter-network SMS HK$0.2/min
  • Intra-network SMS HK$0.8/min
  • International SMS HK$3/min
  • No mention of data

Good!Talk Stored-value SIM

  • Local calls HK$0.25/min
  • International Calls FREE (I assume the HK$0.25/min still applies)
  • Local SMS HK$0.7
  • International SMS HK$1.8
  • No mention of data

They also have a Megasaver IDD & Roaming SIM card plan and an IDD & Roaming SIM card which have higher local and IDD rates, but offer international roaming – not something I was planning on doing.

China Mobile Peoples

[April 22 Update: When I actually got to HK, China Mobile wouldn’t give me a prepaid card with data. I ended up signing up for a 1 month no contract plan for a little over HK$100 that included unlimited EDGE.]

China mobile has a LOT of prepaid SIM options. I will only describe the plans best suited for travellers:

IDD Talk Card

  • HK$60 and HK$98 cards
  • Local calls HK$0.25/min
  • International calls FREE + HK$0.25/min local rate
  • Intra-network SMS HK$0.1
  • Inter-network SMS HK$0.7
  • International SMS HK$1.8
  • Mobile GPRS data HK$0.04/KB
  • Mobile data & Wifi 1 Day Pass HK$9
  • Mobile data & Wifi 7 Day Pass HK$38
  • Mobile data & Wifi 30 Day Pass HK$78

Mobile Data Prepaid SIM Card

  • HK$139 Card
  • Local calls (21:00-11:59) HK$0.05/min
  • Local calls (12:00-20:59) HK$0.12/min
  • Intra-network SMS HK$0.1
  • Inter-network SMS HK$0.7
  • International SMS HK$1.8
  • Mobile data & Wifi 1 Day Pass HK$9
  • Mobile data & Wifi 7 Day Pass HK$38
  • Mobile data & Wifi 30 Day Pass HK$78

PCCW

PCCW offers 3 pre-paid SIM packages. Note that the website says GPRS for 2G data, but there have been some user postings online that mention GPRS/EDGE for PCCW and I’m not sure if it is the provider or the user who is oversimplifying. [Feb 7 2011 update: I’m told that PCCW does not allow data plans to be added to pre-paid plans.]

Mobile Rechargable SIM Card

  • HK$48 and HK$78 Cards
  • Local calls (21:00-11:59) HK$0.06/min
  • Local calls (12:00-20:59) HK$0.12/min
  • International calls (Canada & US) HK$1.6 + local airtime rate
  • Intra-network SMS HK$0.1
  • Inter-network SMS HK$0.7
  • International SMS HK$1.8
  • Wifi hotspot data (10 min pass) HK$3
  • Wifi hotspot data (24 hr pass) HK$20
  • Fair Use Unlimited 3G HSPA DAta HK$328/month
  • 2G Unlimted GPRS Data HK$168/month

Mobile Global Reach IDD Rechargable SIM

  • HK$68 and HK$98 cards
  • Local calls HK$0.25/min
  • International calls (Canada & US) FREE+ local airtime rate
  • Intra-network SMS HK$0.1
  • Inter-network SMS HK$0.7
  • International SMS HK$1.8
  • Wifi hotspot data (10 min pass) HK$3
  • Wifi hotspot data (24 hr pass) HK$20
  • Fair Use Unlimited 3G HSPA DAta HK$328/month
  • 2G Unlimted GPRS Data HK$168/month

All-in-1 Communications SIM

  • HK$98 card has HK$150 stored value
  • Local calls HK$0.3/min
  • International calls (Canada & US) HK$1.6 + local airtime rate
  • Intra-network SMS HK$0.1
  • Inter-network SMS HK$0.7
  • International SMS HK$1.8
  • Wifi hotspot data (10 min pass) HK$3
  • Wifi hotspot data (24 hr pass) HK$20
  • Fair Use Unlimited 3G HSPA DAta HK$328/month
  • 2G Unlimted GPRS Data HK$168/month

11 thoughts on “Hong Kong Prepaid GSM and Mobile Data Options

  1. I have a USB modem or a pocket wifi…which one do you suggest i use? I am looking at the Peoples Sim for a much cheaper option. do you concur?

    • I haven’t looked at them from a USB stick point of view, but I know that Peoples (now completely branded as China Mobile in HK) only has GSM and no 3G. If your USB supports the 2100 band you probably want to pick one of the others.

  2. Regarding China Mobile, I have the 78$ data prepay plan. I’ve been having it since more than a year, and I was surprised they no longer sell it. This month I bought a beautiful Xperia Arc for my gf, and I got her the 78 HKD prepay data plan. We went to a CMHK shop in TST, and just got it. No big deal, no effort, no questions asked. Are you sure they no longer sell it on the other shops?

  3. I like what you said my question is WHAT ABOUT CHINA??? you seem so knowledgable maybe you can help me – I heard of the following plan – [FONT=Arial Black]300MB mobile broadband data to ¥186/month for 510min voice calls (national), 650MB of data[/FONT]
    questions i have is
    1. what about a payment – is it prepaid or can i give a credit card for monthly billing.
    2. Can i turn it on when i need it and off when i don’t
    3. How can i get a phone in china with American keys and language?
    4. Is the above for Guangzhou
    5. Will it work in Hong Kong also at a roaming rate?
    Data Cell phone plan for Guangzhou

  4. Im in hong kong at the moment and im using the china mobile prepaid with the 9 hk $ a day option. It still doesent have 3g, but is working prety well otherways.

    I got the simcard in july and then used the 78$ a month option. But today i booked the small one without problems.

    But maybe i m a special case, couse my hong kong exgirlfriend bought the sim for me. So maybe they just dont sell that one day plan to foreners couse they are afraid to loose money couse they dont eaven get the sim payed properly.

    So if you need the only one day option, just ask a local person to get you one :-)

  5. I’m confused about the 2100 band requirement for data. I’m in Canada and I’m using the GSM version of the Galaxy Nexus. It is Pentaband HSPA so it has 2100. But is it the right one?

    • Usually having the 2100 band means that your phone would get 3G speeds in Hong Kong (if it’s unlocked); however, if the phone specifies that it has 2100 AWS then no, because AWS is only used in North America (T-Mobile, Wind, Mobilicity).

      I tried looking into what the pentabands are on the Galaxy, but I saw some conflicting information about the phone working on Wind and Mobilicity here in Canada. I suspect there may be multiple versions so you would have to confirm that yours has the non-AWS 2100 band.

  6. Hi I am traveling through the USA and South America
    what is the best roaming sim for voice, data and VoIP, I don’t wish to buy local cards for all places visit

  7. Here is the most up to date information data plans for visitors to Hong Kong as i just returned from there a week ago.

    DO NOT BUY CARDS FROM PHONE COMPANIES STORES. You will need to take the MTR (the subway) to the Sham Shui Po station and go to the street market close to the station. There are booths on the street that sell prepaid phone sim cards for a substantial discount. These booths usually have hanging posters with a bunch of phone numbers on them…making these booths easily identifiable. These cards are not stolen, bootleg or fake; they are the real deal.

    Of all the options available, pick the company “one2free”. These guys have the best reception anywhere in HK and i think has the best value. For $160 HKD, i got unlimited 3G data + 1800 local voice minutes. WARNING. Hong Kong uses 2100 band for their 3G connection while North America typically uses 1900. If your phone doesn’t have 2100, you can still access 2G Edge but no 3G. My HTC Desire Z A7272 didn’t have 2100 so i was stuck at 2G. My friend’s iPhone 4S, using the same sim, got HSPA+ speed. This is specific to the phone’s hardware and has nothing to do with your service provider.

    One last thing to note is that some of these cards are only available in the micro-sim card format; which is smaller than the regular sim card. If you have a non-iPhone, be sure to ask for an adapter from the vendor so you can fit the micro-sim into your regular sized slot.

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