Three of Hong Kong's four fixed-line telephone operators have set aside business differences to label the Government's review of the telecommunications industry ill-conceived and possibly detrimental to the sector. A joint submission by New World Telephone, New T&T and Hongkong Telecom details a number of concerns about the review process. 'The scope of the review is too broad and unfocused with no identified tangible objectives,' it said. 'The approach to the review is both vague and simplistic, offering no guidance to reader or responder. 'As companies which are making a considerable contribution to the welfare of the community, we are concerned that the consultation process is ill-conceived and may prove detrimental to the existing industry structure.' The submission was handed to government officials a few days ago. The review was launched early last month with the publication of a consultation paper outlining why the Economic Services Branch thought another look at telecoms policy in the territory was necessary. The last government telecoms position paper was published in 1994. A period of just over a month was allowed for interested parties to draw up submissions. Hutchison Telecom, the other fixed-line company, has not signed the document but a source close to one of the operators said this did not mean it had a different view. Drawing on overseas precedents, the co-signatories to the joint submission said this was far too short for proper consideration of the issues. 'Any policy change would have a direct impact on the form competition will take over the next few years,' it concluded. The companies behind the submission clearly have a vested interest in the eventual outcome of the review. A key decision to be made by the telecommunications review is whether new local fixed-line operators should be allowed into the market next year - a move that could hit the profitability of existing firms. A central question will be the terms of new licences. For example, whether winning companies should be allowed to operate without the need to build their own fibre-optic loops. The three licensees awarded franchises were required to spend billions of dollars building their own infrastructure. To date, the three firms have shied away from offering answers to these types of questions. 'As presently drafted, the [consultation] paper simply amounts to a statement of intent to perform a consultation rather than a proper consultation,' according to the joint statement. 'As such there is very little to comment on.' Director General of Telecommunications Alex Arena was seconded to the Economic Services Branch to head the review. He has said that he deliberately left the review relatively open in order to offer interested parties a blank sheet on which to submit ideas rather than being constrained by rigid terms of reference.