HONG KONG investors looking for a role in the world of 21st century communications are being courted as backers for project Odyssey, a proposed satellite-based global telecommunications network. The project will take about US$2 billion to finance and present partners are confident of obtaining the funding, according to Bruce Gerding, vice-president of TRW Space and Electronics Group, and Marc Leroux, president and chief operating officer of Teleglobe. The companies, which are the fund partners and managers, have committed $150 million and appointed Morgan Stanley as financial adviser to help raise the remainder. The system of 12 satellites will enable the transmission of voice, fax and paging services to subscribers worldwide. Six satellites would be launched in four years and the remainder would be in orbit within another year. The company said users would have to pay between $400 and $500 for a handset and a monthly tariff of between $10 and $20. It also estimated that calls would cost less than $1 a minute, about one-third of the rate being quoted by competitors. The company, which envisages about 1.5 million subscribers, said the sophisticated telecommunications package would target those in remote locations - such as oil rigs - the military and governments, or as a specialist service for those wanting global access. Mr Leroux said the company was particularly enthusiastic about the prospects of applying satellite technology to China's telecommunications needs. 'We are in Hong Kong looking for a few investors who will also be participants,' Mr Leroux said. The company is keen to find an Asian backer who will provide assistance in funding, distribution, production and assistance in developing markets. It is also moving to head off competition from Inmarsat's Project 21, a similar operation owned by 75 telecommunications providers and mobile telephone operators. Don Rae, a director of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, said: 'Both systems will have around 12 satellites in the same orbit. Their handsets will be similar and they are going after the same market. They are also trying to strike the same deals with the same people.'