Cell phone functions have not changed much in recent years, and phone sales have been lackluster.
Network operators who had relied on new phone purchase waves to boost sales are therefore shifting marketing budgets to promote value-added services, like one of Smartone's plans that target parents.
The group's chief executive, Anna Yip, notes that the plan allows parents to convert data usage into incentive "tokens" for children.
The new generation is growing up in a digital world with mobile phones being used as "electronic pacifiers," and parents naturally worry about their children overusing the internet.
To meet demand for services that address such concerns, Smartone has introduced plans with features like parent-child data sharing to prevent over-use by youngsters, and also to help them establish good network usage habits.
Yip says apart from data sharing, the scheme also allows parents to adjust download speeds and employ data usage to reward their children for being diligent in their academic work and to manage their internet usage pattern.
The industry is hoping that the advent of the fifth-generation mobile network will serve to break the market doldrums that have resulted from the bottleneck of cell phone function advancement.
A dramatic increase in network speed would not only greatly enhance the functions of mobile phones, but also drive the growth of industries, Yip says.
To create a smart city, the government should speed up network construction on a policy level to give Hong Kong an early entry into the 5G era, she adds.
Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily