The average broadband downlink on Lantau and other Hong Kong islands is somewhere south of 7 Mbps. That’s not even a tenth of the city’s average download rate of 84.6 Mbps; the actual rate in fact is probably closer to one-twentieth. The 7 Mbps is the theoretical maximum on the PCCW service and is so far below the notion of acceptable broadband to the rest of Hong Kong that the company doesn’t even list it on its website.
It’s no surprise why this is so, PCCW-HKT is a de facto monopoly on Hong Kong’s outlying islands, where it is not viable for any other broadband company to build a network. Both HGC and HKBN and have assured me of that.
The telecoms sector traditionally deals with this through a universal service obligation (USO), which guarantees provision of uneconomic but essential services. Hong Kong actually has a USO, but it just covers voice. Basic telephony is simple – you either have a working phone or you don’t.
But broadband isn’t just broadband. You can get HKBN’s 1Gbps symmetric service for HK$476, and PCCW’s minimum published rate is 100 Mbps for $598. Then there is the service delivered to residents of South Lantau and the other islands. Continue reading