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Powerline Broadband in Hong Kong 146

DBordello writes "After a successful two year trial run, Hutchison Global Communications (HGC) has commercially launched a broadband over power line service in selective areas in Hong Kong. According to CNET news, the service offers 1.5 megabit per second speeds at a monthly cost of HK$138 (US$17.70), but users are forced to sign a seven month contract."
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Powerline Broadband in Hong Kong

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  • Seven months? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheRealFixer ( 552803 ) on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @11:42AM (#4956913)
    but users are forced to sign a seven month contract.

    Forced? For a little over $17 a month? Heck, almost all broadband providers in the US force you to sign a 12-month contract, at $35+ a month! I'd take a 7-month contract at that price any day!
    • Re:Seven months? (Score:3, Informative)

      by doubtless ( 267357 )
      Remember that $1 US is to almost $8 HK dollars, and average earning in HK is lower than in US. Having said that, 7-mo. contract is still a pretty good deal. =)
    • Re:Seven months? (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      But in Hong Kong, other broadband provider give you deals like US$5 a month with 12 months contract, using cable tv lines. That's 8Mb/s shared by a bunch of people. The power line deal is expensive! :)

      Hong Kong is the place where most advanced technologies were adopted first.

      • Hong Kong is the place where most advanced technologies were adopted first.

        I can imagine - in US most of home Internet users connect using 56K of AOL.

    • or like me = 64.99 a month.

      which is a diff in price of $331

      I would love to save 331 over seven months with this....

      SBC you blood suckers!
    • 7-monthes is a fungshui thing; it more lucky to make seven month contract because seventy-seven year old wise grandma of CEO predicted so.

      and what "selected area" really means is that only those people where the power-line enters the house from the south gets service. people who has power-line from south-east / south-west is okay as long an there are three windows, live dear a pond (with live goldfishes inside), and must be in viewable range of five bushes.
  • I wonder (Score:5, Funny)

    by zurmikopa ( 460568 ) on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @11:46AM (#4956924) Homepage
    Does it have an ad campaign along the lines of "Sign up now and get 3 pirated movies free!"?
  • by drunkrussian ( 619107 ) on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @11:47AM (#4956929) Journal
    In other news, Hong Kong is without power after a surge (ha, ha) of users immediately began swapping pirated software and movies...
  • Why is this not available in the US yet?


  • One thing to realize is that Hong Kong is a very small island with very high population density. Even so, the story says the company is only serving selected areas. That means there is very little distance between the server and the customers.
    • by odaiwai ( 31983 ) on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @01:24PM (#4957212) Homepage
      Umm, if you'd read the article you'd've know that they're doing this in Hung Hom, which is Kowloon side and not on Hong Kong Island at all.

      Still very densely populated, but, Hong Kong is not the same as Hong Kong Island.

      • I read the article, but I don't know Hong Kong well enough to know what you said. Anyhow, it doesn't change my comment.

        There is something different about the H.K. power system, as I remember. Can you help with this?
        • by odaiwai ( 31983 ) on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @03:26PM (#4957576) Homepage
          The HK power systems is 220v, same as the UK. There is nothing special about the HK power system as opposed to the UK power system.

          However, because almost everyone lives in apartment blocks of 40 stories (average), converting one single building to powerline internet at construction time can result in 200+ flats with powerline. A typical large suburban development will be 10 towers, each of forty+ stories, with 6 or more flats per floor. If you own the company which builds the flats, you can build in your other company's internet, and lock those tenants into your services. Not only do they have to buy from you, they have to pay you a monthly access fee. Also, at build time, you can lock out cable and telecoms providers, so tenants have to pay extra to have those services.

          dave "and you thought it was a free economy"
  • by kmweber ( 196563 )
    As far as I can tell, no one's forced to sign anything. Potential users just make a decision as to what they value more.
  • fry your computer at will.....
  • Reversi (Score:5, Funny)

    by limekiller4 ( 451497 ) on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @11:56AM (#4956964) Homepage
    From the article [cnet.com]:
    "Users are required to lock into a seven-month contract in return for a modem, or power socket."

    Now all we need is a PCMCIA version. Then we'll have a modem that gets its electricity from the computer and the information from the wall outlet.

    And you thought tech support had it rough now...

    "Nono, sir, you don't..."
    [BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZttt *spark, *fssszt]
  • Dum-de-dum (Score:1, Informative)

    Remember people, 1,5 megaBIT, not byte. Stop packing your stuff and forget about the 17 bucks T1 line. 1,5 megabit / 8 = 0,1875 megabyte per second or about 192 kb/sec. In other words, below common cable internet speeds.

    So either this new powerline ISP is crap, the original author typoed or my math is fucked.

    • Where is your point? T1 [acronymfinder.com] looks pretty the same to me.
    • No...your math is correct, but I would like to know what internet service provider you have that offers you more than 1.5Mbps (or about 192KBps as you evaluated). My current provider offers 512Kbps down and 128Kbps up be default (I am going to start paying more and get 1Mbps down and 512Kbps up). so 1.5Mbps down is GREAT for $17 per month. And then I would like to know what T1's you have been using that offer up 1.5MBps? Cause none of the ones I have ever dealt with do ;)
      • You're obviously more confused than I have time to deal with, but FYI, a T1 is 1.54 MBit, in both directions. I'm sure you aren't really talking about a T1, nor have you ever "used" one other than at an office/school and as upstream transit.
    • uhuh. Well, I wonder what kind of cable you have. 'round here they typically are 512/128 kbit, and from what I've understood that's the case in the rest of the world too.

      FYI, T1 is according to Tiscali [tiscali.co.uk] 1,544 mbit/s, so the T1 comparison appears to be valid.
      • Can't speak for the poster, but here in the Wichita, KS (US) area, my cable modem can sustain downloads of 350+ KB/s (2.7+ Mb/s)[1]. The cause for concern on my part is that the cable company has never made any sort of guarantee as to what caps they place on the units. I could wake up one morning and find that they've capped me at 128 KB/s and have no recourse.

        [1] Being a cable modem, my transfer speeds are asyncronous. My max upload speed is only around 28 KB/s. I'd be interested in seeing whether or not the powerline broadband in HK is async or syncronous.
        • RCN cable here in southeast PA has bumped us all up to 3mb per second from 1.5mb. I tested this as my employer uses a Yipes 10mb fiber connection. FTP from my employer to me is well over 300KB per second. RCN told all their customers that those who recieve cable TV along with the internet do not have to pay more for this improvement. We used to have Comcast (I live where we have the choice of cable company.) and jumped to RCN the first day they started signing up customers. Comcast has a lot of problems and costs.

          As to the powerline connectivity, I hope they use really good capacitors and other components in the modem... At work I have a dead APC surge suppressor that exploded from a surge one day. We also lost a bunch of equipment and computers when the jolt hit.


          Nothing is impossible to those who do not have to do it themselves.

      • Most cable modem service in the US is 3Mbps or faster downstream unless the service provider decides to be lame and cap it at 1.5Mbps. Upstream bandwidth is usually 128kbps, because most of the service providers *are* lame about that. Older cable systems tended to be 768kbps upstream. The only person I've met with slower cable modem service is somebody whose apartment building runs the cable system instead of the local cable TV provider, so they cap the service at something like 512 or 768 and provide a wimpy 1 or 2 T1s to feed the building.
    • They talk about 10mbps soon, though, and that's T1 speed.

      • T1 is 1.54 megabits per second up and down
        • I'm ashamed =(

          10mbps is still reasonably fast, though! =)

        • How do you know what the up/down speeds are? I don't see a breakdown in the article...
        • Also Wrong (Score:2, Informative)

          T1 is 1.54 megabits per second up and down

          At the raw electrical level, a T1's bandwidth is 1.544 Mbps period. There is no "up and down". Perhaps you meant "up plus down" which would be closer.

          At the higher (e.g., protocol) levels, you can divide that 1.544 Mbps (minus overhead) any way you want between up and down, but the sum of up + down + overhead cannot exceed 1.544 Mbps for a single T1.

          You can, of course, get fractional and multiple T1's, T2's (6.312 Mbps), T3's (44.736 Mbps) and T4's (274.760 Mbps). All of those are nominal speeds (there's a small +/-). In Europe, and some other places, it's E1: 2.048 Mbps, E2: 8.448 Mbps, E3: 34.368 Mbps, E4: 139.264 Mbps, E5: 565.148 Mbps, all nominally.

          The foregoing is a tremendously simplified representation, but you get the picture.

    • from the article:

      The official said HGC could provide a service of up to 10Mbps, leveraging on its fibre-optic network.

      so you can get about 6.5 times the bandwidth of a T-1 if you can afford it.
    • Your maths is fucked. All bandwidths are measured in megabits per second, hence 1.5mbit DSL is about the same speed as a T1, or about 27 times as fast as a 56k modem.
    • I'd kill for that connection speed. Not having RTA's yet (yes, my connection is that slow), it quickly seems a great solution for the Last Mile problem.

      I know 192K/s is hella faster than my 24k/s...

    • Hmm.... your math is good, your brain seems to be fucked. And its not 192kb/sec, it would be 192KBps (the little b is bit, the big B is byte). However, T-1 speeds are quite 1.544Kbps, that's right, bits not bytes. Only .044bps faster, it would be.
      Next time, engage brain BEFORE making seemingly intelligent comment.
    • Pardon, but who moderated this up as informative??
      • People learn as much from mistakes as they do from success, maybe even more. I am sure many who have read the responses in this thread have learned a bit (!) about cable, dsl and T1 bandwidth rates, even if the parent message was wrong.
        • Yes, I definitely agree with you. But still, modding up erroneous information can't generally be a good thing. There's too much on it on slashdot to begin with, and when it gets modded up, it pollutes the handfull of quality information.
    • Well, I have Suscom cable internet as my provider, and I pay $40/month (on top of mandatory basic cable) for 512kbps down/256kbps up. That works out to roughly 64KBps down. That sux, but it's all that's available, so $17 for 1.5MBps? Hell, where can I sign?? Seriously though, there are some (I repeat SOME) broadband cable providers that do better. When I had Roadrunner through Time Warner, I have no idea what my max was (wasn't in any of the paperwork, just a very vague "...up to hundreds of times faster than dial-up!", but it was not uncommon for me to get close to 400KBps downstream. That works out to about 3.2Mbps, which is frikkin' incredible. We use roadrunner for my company's connectivity as well, and 400-500KBps is routine. So obviously there is a very wide variance in what is available, but I'd say the cost of ($17) would oust the major providers from any city in the US. Just think, how would Boston or New York respond to that? Would it be to keep on charging $35~$40 a month for broadband? I don't think so; not unless they (competing company's) didn't want customers anymore. I read in one of these posts, that the US is in the Dark Ages as far as connectivity goes, and sadly, while I don't think it's quite that bad, I believe there is far too much truth in that statement.
    • Stop packing your stuff and forget about the 17 bucks T1 line. 1,5 megabit / 8 = 0,1875 megabyte per second or about 192 kb/sec. In other words, below common cable internet speeds.

      You are so completely and utterly wrong. Internet speeds are ALWAYS in bit per second. Like my Charter cable is capped at 768 kiloBITS per second. DSL is often 1.5 megaBITS per second. Dialup is 56 kiloBITS per second.
  • W00T! (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Now bootlegs from Hong Kong can get to the USA faster! Sweet!
  • What? (Score:2, Funny)

    by BJH ( 11355 )
    ...but users are forced to sign a seven month contract.

    HGC: "So, user, you MUST sign this contract that will FORCE you to endure seven WHOLE MONTHS of low-cosy, high-speed broadband access that will allow you to download lots of illegal stuff!!"

    User: "NO! NO!!! Please, God, don't force me to... hang on...YES! YES!!"

    So, um... where's the problem here? I sure don't see one...
  • by jlrowe ( 69115 ) on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @12:48PM (#4957105)
    17$ a month?

    I'm stuck here with no broadband access at all. Cable and DSL are not available, only satellite which is expensive. Stuck with dial-up.

    And this thing works over powerlines? And is *cheaper* than all the other broadband methods?

    Oh dear! Punish me with that contract at $17 a month! Please punish me....

  • I pay the equiv of 55 US per month for a 512k ADSL connection with a monthly download cap of 11.5 GB. The minimum contract length I could sign was 6 months.

    Welcome to broadband in Australia. If your household can actually get it, it's not even worth getting.
  • by mtec ( 572168 ) on Wednesday December 25, 2002 @01:06PM (#4957153)
    You call customer service and yell "MORE POWER!!! (grunt, grunt, grunt)"
  • I wonder if this will benefit anyone in a spread out country like the U.S. Right now the only people who have broadband live close to the telco switching station for DSL or get cable. For the people who can get DSL, cable or power broadband is probably also an option, and the decision will be made on price and reliability.

    For the cable people, power-line broadband is also a possibility and the issue will again be pricing and reliability. I can image people staying away from power broadband because of reliability. If I lived in one these suburbs that has frequent power fluctuation (and I have worked in them), I would stay away from power broadband and install a UPS.

    So the question is will the power companies install repeaters to reach the unserved population, and will that population pay at a rate that supports the service. Previous experience tells us the answer is no. We could implement another tax to help subsidize those who live far away from power lines, but I am not sure broadband is a necessity. It will be interesting to see how the (generally) conservative power companies and rural dwellers lobby congress on this issue. Certainly low population density suburbs and rural areas are more expensive to serve.

    • The biggest issue with this technology is the condition of the power lines in many locales. many homes, especially older ones, still have older style wiring which would be incompatible with this system. Therefore the ISP (and the homeowner) would have to upgrade the wiring which makes it cost ineffective. A start-up ISP would be better off buying all the existing fiber that has already been installed and abandoned for pennies on the dollar and going with a cheap wireless solution for the last mile.
  • The powerline stuff is just a "last mile" solution. The article says this uses the power company fiber-optic infrastructure already. So this is something that could be used in the US, since the US power companies also have this in place.

    However, power companies could deliver via fiber optic or coax direct to the home as well. I'd love to see the US electric utility companies decide to compete with the telco/cable duopoly no matter how they do it. The advantage to us other than the obvious one is that the power industry doesn't have a vested interest in protecting either telephone service or television content providers.

    See how they do this in Alameda, California [alamedapowerandtelecom]. (Alameda is in the SF Bay Area, next to Berkeley)

  • Please sign me up for that deal. Granted of course exchange rates are different. I am paying $69 a month for my 1.5 Mbps ADSL http://www.instantnetworks.net/dsl A possible reason why powerline works in other countries rather than the US is becuase in Europe and other countries is because power transformers serve more customers elsewhere rather in the US. It would not be cost effective to do so here. Another reason even before powerline Europe was big on ISDN and it never really caugh on in the US. Why? Probably due to a money issue and DSL and Cable on the horizon. Also goverments control much of the inrastructure and so they can afford to undertake these big projects. In other cases there is no infrasructure to begin with. Example:Why wireless use has skyrocketed in 3rd world countries.
  • ..Interesting - I just returned [I stumbled off the plane, replete with stubble] a few hours ago from Hong Kong, and immersed myself in the 'tech scene' over there - and hadn't heard a peep about it. To me actually, i beleive I saw cable prices more expensive than this - very interesting.
  • Huzzah! More open email relays in China to get spammed with! I can hardly wait!
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