UNDETERRED by its failure to pick up a mobile telephone licence the last time the Hong Kong Government freed-up spectrum to allow new operators, Taiwan's Pacific Electric Wire & Cable (PEWC) has joined a consortium tendering for a personal communication services (PCS) licence in the territory. PEWC, which was pipped by SmarTone for a mobile phone licence in the tender races of 1992, has joined an international consortium called P-Plus Communications, a joint-venture that includes Star Paging, Asia Paging, Telecom Services Ltd, Epro Paging and Telecom Finland. The consortium said that should it be granted a licence, it planned to target its service at expanding mobile services in the consumer and small-to medium-sized business markets. In targeting these business segments with special tariff plans and services, P-Plus has the advantage of having more than 100 existing sales and service outlets that are owned and operated by consortium members. The company points to this existing sales base as the leverage point for addressing the consumer market, which it maintains has been largely neglected as a market segment by existing mobile operators. PEWC said P-Plus planned to tailor affordable 'feature-rich' personal communications services directly at this market. P-Plus represents the third major alliance that PEWC has entered with local firm Star Paging. In Taiwan the companies entered a venture called Pacific Star, which is exploring the market for value-added paging services. In Singapore, PEWC and Star Paging entered a joint venture with locally-listed firms Hotel Properties Ltd and Vickers Ballas Ltd. This venture, known as Obstars Paging Ltd, has bid for a radio paging licence to be granted by the Singapore telecommunications authorities. PEWC is somewhat unusual as a telecommunications firm in that it has not been averse to investments well outside the usual telecommunications sphere - perhaps the highest profile of which is its 50 per cent shareholding in Hong Kong's prestigious Conrad Hotel. A more mainstream investment - and nonetheless high-profile - is the PEWC share of the Motorola-led Iridium project, a plan to establish a global telephone system based on a network of low-orbit satellites. Its US$80 million investment in Iridium gives PEWC a five per cent shareholding in the venture, for which it will be co-ordinating the Iridium gateway services for Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei and Papua New Guinea. The Iridium project, once derided by critics as a 'pie in the sky' pipedream, received approval in late January from the US Federal Communications Commission to establish the global network of satellites. Though it failed in its 1992 bid for a mobile telephone licence, PEWC maintains its chances are better this time around. For one thing, there are more licences on offer, with the Office of the Telecommunications Authority committed to granting six new PCS licences. PEWC officials are confident that the combined strength of existing shareholders, and their depth of experience in operating existing radio paging networks successfully in Hong Kong, should combine to give them a more than an even chance of being successful in this latest round of licence bidding.