In Hong Kong, most telecommunications services are provided by licensed telecommunications operators who operate telecommunications facilities and are regulated under the Telecommunications Ordinance ("the Ordinance") and relevant licence conditions. However, in the retail market there are service providers who offer telecommunications services without operating any telecommunications facilities. These service providers are commonly known as resellers of the telecommunications services operated by licensed operators.
Resellers usually purchase wholesale services from licensed operators and offer the services to consumers in the retail market under their own brand names or service packages. Common examples are re-branded or re-packaged IDD calling cards and mobile phone services. As a consumer, you may not be aware of or concern about whether you are obtaining services from licensed telecommunications operators or resellers. However, the situation could be quite different when you wish to lodge a complaint against a reseller whose service is found not up to satisfactory level. In the past, resellers of telecommunications services were not regulated and there was no sufficient protection for consumers who purchased services from them.
With the implementation of section 8(1)(aa) of the Telecommunications Ordinance on 2 February 2007, a Class Licence is created to put all types of reseller activities under the regulatory regime so that consumer interests could be protected.
Under the regulatory regime, any persons who offer telecommunications services without operating any telecommunications equipment will fall within the scope of the Class Licence. Persons who resell telecommunications services will automatically become Class Licensees and are subject to the licence conditions under the Class Licence. The licence conditions in the Class Licence are designed for protecting consumer interests and ensuring that a reasonable quality of service will be provided. In particular, the resellers are required to provide the following information to facilitate consumers to make informed purchasing decisions:
To be a smart consumer, before you purchase any telecommunications services, you are advised to check if the above information is available.
You may also refer to the leaflet and poster for detailed information of the regulatory regime for telecommunications service offered by resellers.