Hello Hong Kong, we are here!

Updated: 2014-10-17 07:10

By Lin Jing and Chai hua in Shenzhen(HK Edition)

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 Hello Hong Kong, we are here!

Commuters checks their smartphones on an MTR train in Hong Kong. Widening cooperation between Shenzhen and the SAR is expected to trigger greater business opportunities between the two cities. Edmond Tang / China Daily

Hello Hong Kong, we are here!

Hong Kong companies operating in Shenzhen's Qianhai special economic zone can expect lower telecommunications costs with the launch of a special SIM card at the end of the year to facilitate integration of the two regions.

This follows the signing of a strategic cooperation pact between the Qianhai authorities and China Telecom this week to jointly launch the Qianhai Sim Card.

As a result of closer cooperation between Shenzhen and Hong Kong communication providers, both cities are working on an integrated mobile communications rating system. Qianhai will be the first to try it out.

Zhang Bei, the top official in charge of developing Qianhai, said that by using the SIM card, calls from Qianhai to Hong Kong will only be charged as municipal calls, rather than long distance calls.

Hello Hong Kong, we are here!

The current charge for making phone calls from Shenzhen to Hong Kong is 2.3 yuan ($0.37) per minute, while China Telecom's municipal calls cost only 0.4 yuan a minute in Shenzhen. The new SIM card will help trim the cost by 82.6 percent. When the new card comes into service, existing roaming fees charged to Hong Kong SIM cards in Shenzhen will be a thing of the past.

At the same time, the fee for making international calls in Qianhai will also be the same as Hong Kong's. The rate for mainland international calls is generally higher than that in the SAR. For making calls to the US, for example, China Telecom's rate is about HK$10 ($1.29), while a Hong Kong call costs less than HK$2 with IDD (International Direct Dialling). For international companies that need to interact with their employees worldwide, the new service will cut their telecommunications costs by more than 66.6 percent.

"The measure will further integrate Shenzhen and Hong Kong and reduce operational costs for enterprises at Qianhai," Zhang said.

Hello Hong Kong, we are here!

Simon Lee, a senior lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong's Business School, said costs will always be an issue for international firms operating at Qianhai. "The call-back system or Internet phones like Skype are always popular among users. But if mobile-phone calls are charged at local rates when calls are made to other areas, it will stimulate phone traffic there. The calling card can also ensure high quality communication," he said.

Lee added that many users on the mainland are actively seeking the best channels for communication between places.

Rong Weihua, business promotion director of the Qianhai economic zone, said that by the end of May, there were already 7,683 companies registered in the economic zone, with total registered capital standing at 518.8 billion yuan, and Hong Kong businesses accounting for 377 billion yuan.

It's expected that by the end of this year, some 1,000 Hong Kong firms will have set up shop at Qianhai, representing 10 percent of the total number.

As part of Qianhai's 12th Five-Year Program in the telecommunications industry, the new SIM card will be initially launched as a pilot project.

Contact the writers at linjingcd@chinadaily.com.cn and grace@chinadailyhk.com

(HK Edition 10/17/2014 page8)