The Government's move to open the pay television and international telecoms markets to unlimited competition could prove a bonus for Hong Kong's two satellite operators. Asia Satellite Holdings and APT Satellite are suffering as the regional economic turmoil has hit demand for transponders when there is a surplus of capacity. Under the television and broadcast review published two weeks ago, the Government has proposed that once Hongkong Telecom's international monopoly ends any operator can begin offering services. In the first year these must be on circuits leased from Hongkong Telecom but from 2000 operators can build and operate their own facilities. This could offer satellite operators new business as service providers look for quick ways to establish routings for international services. Satellite connections can be established must faster than fibre-optic undersea cables. 'It think initially it [circuits] will be through satellite, with cable taking over in the longer term,' AsiaSat chief executive Peter Jackson said. It could be 2002 before new operators can buy or lease cable capacity from anyone but Hongkong Telecom. One way around this is to lease satellite space and bounce the signals to a location where there is competitive fibre capacity. Mr Jackson suggested one potentially popular route might be to Guam, where operators could then switch to undersea capacity operated from there. Other target routes could be the mainland, the Philippines, Indonesia and Europe. Fibre connections usually are the cheapest way to send traffic. Satellite services are cheaper for places where telecommunications infrastructure is poorer or where there is more than one recipient site. Telecommunications services made up about 30 per cent of AsiaSat's turnover last year, with the balance made up of broadcasting TV signals. Hongkong Telecom's monopoly of uplinking facilities to satellites also will end in 2000, allowing more competition and helping stem the move seen recently of broadcasting and TV production to Singapore, Mr Jackson said.