Hutchison Paging, part of British mobile telecommunications group Orange, 48.22 per cent owned by Hutchison Whampoa, has applied for new frequencies available under the European Radio Messaging Service (Ermes). The Department of Transport said BT Mobile, Mercury Paging and Vodapage, along with London Pager Co, Paging Network and Message Communications had all applied for Ermes licences. 'I expect this to benefit paging customers in the UK through the provision of new services and also contribute to the development to the growing European market in international radio paging,' British science and technology minister Ian Taylor said. By the summer all the applications will have been assessed and the government hopes to then be able to announce the successful firms. Orange hopes to expand into Europe through paging and the spread of roaming agreements on its Personal Comunications Network technology. Sixteen VHF radio channels have been designated for use by Ermes, with eight available nationally in Britain and eight on a regional basis. Hutchison, BT Paging, Vodapage and Mercury Paging have already taken up the offer for a single Ermes channel, but must compete for further frequencies.