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The mobile services market is fully liberalised and extremely competitive. Fees and charges of mobile operators are not subject to the approval of the Communications Authority and are determined by market forces. Nevertheless, mobile operators should clearly provide all relevant details for consumers to make informed choices. For any tariff revision, it is recommended that mobile operators shall give advance notice to their customers of no less than 30 working days.

The following are some charging methods which deserve your attention -

Charging of Calls Forwarded to a Voice Mailbox

Whether a phone call is connected depends on whether the terminal of the called party has sent an "answering signal". Under normal situation, the "answering signal" is automatically sent when the receiving party picks up the call. The mobile operator immediately starts counting the airtime. However, on some occasions, the receiving party may possibly be a fax machine, a voice mailbox, or an interactive voice response system or the calls may have already been diverted to these telecommunications equipment. Under such circumstances, when you call that number, your call is automatically connected or forwarded and a communication mode is then established, triggering off the transmission of an "answering signal". Although you do not have actual voice communications with the receiving party, this call is regarded as connected and you will be charged for the call even though you may have hung up immediately.

Charging of Conference Calls with Two Other Parties Simultaneously

In general, you have to pay for two calls for talking simultaneously with two parties on two different phone numbers.

Charging of "Peak Hour" and "Non-peak Hour" Calls

In general, mobile operators will use the start time of the call to determine whether a call is charged at "peak hour" or "non-peak hour" rate. It means that even the call starts at "peak hour" and ends at "non-peak hour", the call will be charged at "peak hour" rate. Even most of the time the call falls within the "non peak hour", the call will still be charged at "peak hour" rate. If mobile operators do not follow this general practice, it is acceptable as long as customers are informed. You are advised to check with your mobile operator on how it charges you on calls straddling a "peak hour" and a "non-peak hour".

Charging of "Intra-network" and "Inter-network" Calls

Mobile operators may impose different rates on "intra-network” and "inter-network” calls. This also applies to non-voice services such as Short Message Service (SMS) and Multimedia Message Service (MMS). In general, "intra-network” calls refer to those between subscribers of the same mobile operator while "inter-network” calls are those between subscribers of different mobile operators. Different mobile operators may apply different deduction mechanisms on free "intra-network” and "inter-network” minutes. You are advised to check the details of the charging plan of your mobile operator.