Hongkong Telecom is set to test Singapore's World Trade Organisation commitment to open up its telecommunications markets by 2000 with a bid to run a fixed-line network in the island-state. Following its successful tender as part of the MobileOne consortium - to be the exclusive mobile competitor to Singapore Telecom (SingTel) until 2000 - Hongkong Telecom has allied with the same partners to launch a fixed-line bid. The move comes as Singapore is gradually liberalising its markets. On April 1, it opened up competition with SingTel for the first time with mobile services from MobileOne and pager services by MobileOne, Hutchison Paging and Sunpage. Hongkong Telecom, Cable & Wireless (C&W), the Keppel Group and Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) have yet to decide on the shareholding of the new company, but C&W chief executive Richard Brown said he saw the venture as a means to 'dig our roots deeper in a market where we have quickly become established through MobileOne'. 'The combination of C&Ws' worldwide expertise, Hongkong Telecom's regional experience and the local market knowledge of Keppel and SPH makes us a powerful contender,' he said. Analysts have estimated that a winning bidder would need to be prepared to invest between US$500 million and $1 billion. Last year, the Telecommunications Authority of Singapore (TAS) said it would permit two more fixed-line operators to compete with Singapore Telecom after April 1, 2000. British Telecom, in partnership with Japan's Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, Singapore Power, and Singapore Technologies and Media, has already announced another bid. Maritime conglomerate SembCorp and Singapore MRT - which runs Singapore's mass rapid train system - have also set up a consortium to bid for a licence. Candidates for the fixed line network now have to pre-qualify for the licence by proving to TAS that they have the technical and financial capabilities to compete. The main tender process begins in September and a formal bid has to be submitted by January, with results expected by mid-1998.