Star Telecom has entered into a joint venture with United States emerging market telecommunications specialist International Wireless Communications (IWC) to expand its paging business across the region. The joint venture, in which Star Telecom holds a 40 per cent stake, includes 19 operational paging networks by the Hong Kong company in China. Star is facing capital constraints due to its involvement in the personal communications services network to be built by the P-Plus consortium. The joint venture is capitalised at US$19 million and should see three paging network deals signed in Southeast Asia within four months, IWC vice-chairman Hugh McClung said. An existing paging network joint venture in India will be absorbed by the new company. The company had recently completed a US$200 million bond offering, Mr McClung said. Star Telecom managing director Francis Wong said the new company primarily would pursue gaining of licences to operate paging networks. Star Telecom's technical, marketing and distribution pre-eminence made it an ideal partner for the US company, Mr McClung said. He envisaged committing US$50 million to the project within three years after having signed up one million subscribers. A public listing of the joint venture was possible once a minimum of 200,000 subscribers were signed up, Mr Wong said. IWC president John Lockton said the growth potential of emerging Asian markets was evident from statistics showing average paging penetration levels of 10 users per 1,000 people compared with 100 users per 1,000 people in the US.