Keeping in Touch in Hong Kong
Keeping in touch with those back home isn't a challenge for expats living in Hong Kong. Famous for being a fast-paced business hub, options for communication in Hong Kong often seem endless. Internet, telephones, mobile phones and postal services are available and easily accessible.
Telecommunications in Hong Kong are some of the most sophisticated in the world and come with high-quality service standards and affordable prices.
Internet in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is extremely well connected and Internet access is available almost everywhere via broadband, cable, DSL and even fibre. If expats are worried about dealing with frustratingly slow speeds, they'll be happy to learn that Internet speed in Hong Kong is amongst the fastest in the world.
While Internet cafés in Hong Kong are practically nonexistent, there are thousands of public WiFi hot spots throughout the region – Hong Kong International Airport, MTR stations and libraries offer WiFi. This is part of a government initiative known as GovWiFi which aims to keep everyone connected by providing free WiFi in Hong Kong.
Setting up Internet at home is just as easy. Although most apartments do not come with Internet, the subscription process is rather simple. There are a number of reputable providers to choose from. All packages vary on what they offer, and some will charge based on usage rather than a flat monthly fee, so expats will need to shop around. When the time comes to actually set up the Internet, expat customers will need proof of residence as well as their passport or Hong Kong Identity Card.
Internet censorship in Hong Kong
Unlike in mainland China, programs like Skype or websites such as Facebook and Twitter are not banned in Hong Kong. There is very little Internet censorship, apart from the distribution of certain incriminating materials, including obscene or pirated materials.
Mobile phones in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has one of the highest cellphone density rates in the world. Spend an afternoon out and one quickly notices that if someone is old enough to talk, then they’re old enough to have a mobile phone in Hong Kong. And not just any phone – Apple iPhones and Samsung smartphones dominate the market here. Most people rely heavily on smartphone apps such as WhatsApp or LINE and, as such, smartphones are so ubiquitous in Hong Kong that it is actually an inconvenience if somebody doesn't have one.
Similar to the West, phones are often given for free or at a reduced price when signing a new contract, and almost all plans in Hong Kong start on a two-year basis. Expats can easily sign a mobile contract, as long as they have proof of address and a HKID. Even without a HKID, most companies will still allow expatriates to sign a contract with only their passport, if they pay a deposit.
Most providers also offer special deals such as discounted rates between certain hours and free calls or texts to numbers within the same network. However, these deals are constantly changing, so it is a good idea for expats to compare packages from different companies to find the one that best fits their needs.
For those wanting a mobile phone while in Hong Kong but not wanting to be bound to a two-year plan, most companies also offer prepaid SIM card options, which can be bought from many convenience stores. Buying a SIM card locally will be the cheapest and easiest way to make calls.
Landline telephones in Hong Kong
Hong Kong was the first city in the world with a fully digitised local phone network, so new residents can expect the service to be efficient and cheap.
Most telephone landlines in Hong Kong are managed by PCCW, which will need to activate the line in order to use it.
Landline telephones are not as common as mobile phones in Hong Kong. PCCW offers landline packages for reduced prices to customers who already have a home Internet plan with the company. Landline and Internet setup can all be done in one trip. The documents needed to open a landline are the same for getting Internet service (proof of residence and HKID or passport).
Postal services in Hong Kong
Postal services are very reliable in Hong Kong. If sending post within Hong Kong, it will generally be received within one working day, except during the Mid-Autumn Festival and Chinese New Year when more people use the postal service. International shipping costs are reasonable and generally less expensive than in the US.
Since almost everyone lives in apartments in Hong Kong, most mailboxes are quite small. So, if someone expects to receive anything bigger than a letter, they'll have to pick it up from the local post office.
It is still common to receive all bills and statements in hard copy, in addition to online copies.
English media and news in Hong Kong
English media is readily available in Hong Kong. The Standard and The South China Morning Post are the most popular English-language newspapers, which circulate daily. There are a number of other English newspapers and magazines available in Hong Kong, and it also isn't difficult to find imported publications.
There is an abundance of cable television channels in Hong Kong. The majority of channels will provide an option for English dub or subtitles, and popular shows from the US and UK are aired in original English (with Chinese subtitles).
Cable television is cheap and leading companies offer the option to add on popular foreign channels such as The Discovery Channel, ESPN and even TLC, for a nominal monthly fee.