It's Sod's Law. Your correspondent put third-generation (3G) mobile phones on the back burner for a while because nothing was happening and the week he went on leave was the week it all blew up again. Time therefore to go through a quick review of the greatest sense and the greatest nonsense talked on 3G matters over the last week. The greatest sense first. Why worry that Hutchison bowed out of a consortium bidding for 3G licences in Germany because it found the final auction price too high? The worry about Hutchison all along was rather that it had fallen in love with 3G (always the worst thing you can do with an investment), that it was not doing its financial analyses of the business properly and would pay any price for European licences. It has now proven this doubt unfounded. The boss is evidently doing his sums as thoroughly as he has ever done for property and, while he is willing to pay a high price for 3G, he has showed that he has his limits and will hold to them. The German exit is more of a reason to buy Hutch than to sell it. Declaration time - your correspondent is a shareholder. And now to the greatest nonsense. It seems the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (Ofta) has an adviser about which we previously knew nothing and, yes indeed, this adviser sings Ofta's tune so perfectly you would think it was a lip-synch act. All the old excuses for cutting you, me and every other member of the public out of the huge fortunes that 3G can generate have been trotted out by Janice Hughes, managing director of a consultancy called Spectrum. Let's have a little more of just who Spectrum is, Janice. What makes you an authority? Here we go on the nonsense list. Consumers will pay more if 3G licences are auctioned instead of being handed out free, says Ms Hughes. Not so. Until 3G networks are saturated they will compete with each other fiercely on price to try sign up as many new subscribers as possible. It will make no difference to their costs. These are almost all fixed. What they charge will be determined by what the market will bear, not by their costs. And, when saturation has been reached (if it ever is), price would in any case be the only fair way of determining who should get access. This is a premium service and will not live up to its real potential if a big corporation holding a 3G conference call on a multi-billion-dollar deal can be knocked off the airwaves by Mrs Leung passing out amateur videos of a family holiday. The corporation will gladly pay extra to make sure its scheduled conference call is not interrupted. Mrs Leung will happily wait a few hours for lower night-time rates even if she does not realise that she has benefited from an enormous public windfall because licences were auctioned instead of being handed out like so many lollipops. Poor Excuse No. 2. 'Companies would be so handicapped by the initial up-front costs of just winning a licence they would have little to invest in their equipment, roll-out would be delayed, corners would be cut and many consumers . . . could find they don't get offered the service at all.' Has Ms Hughes ever participated in making corporate financial decisions? What corporation pays billions for a commercial right only to consider afterwards whether it can find the money to exploit that right? It works the other way round. The fact that a corporation has paid a big sum for a right gives it a pronounced incentive to exploit that right as fully and rapidly as possible. You got the wrong word, Janice. It's incentive, not disincentive. Same goes for network service and Internet features. They will be better for auctions. Last of the Microsoft saga. They fixed it.