PHONE calls on the Internet are among new technologies that have sparked a review of Hongkong Telecom International's licence, the telecommunication watchdog said yesterday. Telecommunications Authority director-general Alex Arena told the Australian Chamber of Commerce he hoped to release a statement on the monopoly's licence by the end of the year. 'Liberalisation in international services is limited by Hongkong Telecom International's licence for international exclusivity, which runs until 2006,' he said. 'But the Government has always said that it was committed to reducing the monopoly . . . there is scope for opening it up without infringing the licence.' An example was his ruling in March that callback services, through which companies offer international rates between 30 and 60 per cent less than Hongkong Telecom's, were legal. Such a system had been going on for a long time but operated by callers using known numbers of rings to get the receivers to call them back, he said. 'Just because the licence did not envisage the technology being developed does not mean callback is illegal,' he said. Grey areas were growing because of new technologies such as the Internet Phone. Phoning on the Internet allows users of the international computer network with the right computers and software to make calls overseas for the cost of their link-ups to local Internet providers. One company last week began publicising its service for $10 an hour. Usual rates to the United States would be about $400. Because of the slight delay in transferring the voice, plus the need to alert the receivers the users are making calls, means there is a question over whether this is telephony or data transfer. Hongkong Telecom said it would wait to see Mr Arena's statement before commenting. The Hong Kong telephone prankster who has conned New York companies out of thousands of dollars is under investigation in the US. An official with America's telephones regulator said it was looking into whether 'Dan Smith' - the mysterious recorded message artist who has tricked Wall Street brokers into making useless calls for up to US$65 (about HK$502) a shot - had broken any United States laws.