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In Hong Kong, telecommunications services are generally provided by telecommunications operators licensed under the Telecommunications Ordinance (Cap 106) (the "Ordinance") through their operation of telecommunications facilities. However, in the retail market there are also service providers who do not operate any telecommunications facilities but simply resell, under their own brand names or service packages, telecommunications services wholesaled from and operated by licensed operators. These service providers, commonly known as "resellers", are regulated under the Class Licence for Offer of Telecommuications Services ("CLOTS") pursuant to section 8(1)(aa) of the Ordinance.

Resellers and any other persons offering any telecommunications services (e.g. local fixed/mobile voice/data services or international voice/data roaming services) to the public without operating telecommunications facilities automatically become a CLOTS licensee without prior application and are subject to the licence conditions of the CLOTS. Such licence conditions are designed for the protection of consumer interests. In particular, resellers are required to provide the following specific information to facilitate consumers to make an informed purchasing decision:

  • name of the CLOTS licensee;
  • customer service hotline number(s);
  • access code(s) or number(s) (including any access password) used for obtaining the services, where applicable;
  • instructions on how to access the services;
  • price(s) of the services; and
  • duration(s) and/or validity period(s) of the services.

With a view to further enhancing the protection of consumer interests, starting from 26 October 2019, an updated CLOTS licensing regime takes effect under which CLOTS licensees with a customer base of 10 000 subscriptions or more are required to register with the Communications Authority ("CA"). Through the registration regime, the CA may more effectively follow up with the registered licensees for dealing with complaints or enquiries from consumers.

To be a smart consumer, before purchasing a telecommunications service, you are advised to find out and compare service details from different service providers such that an informed choice can be made. If there is any doubt about the identity of a service provider as a registered CLOTS licensee or the relevant services it provides, you can visit CA's website.

For further information about the CLOTS, please refer to the publicity material.