Hutchison Global Crossing (HGC) has taken up half the international private leased circuits (IPLC) capacity in Hong Kong within three months of launching services, according to chief operating officer Peter Yip Chak-lam. The fixed-line telephone joint venture between Hutchison Whampoa and Asia Global Crossing has surpassed dominant operator Pacific Century CyberWorks in one of the most lucrative data services markets in Greater China. 'This is one of the fastest growth sectors within China telecom markets,' Mr Yip said. 'We are expecting 50 per cent growth each year in the next three years.' Growth of the IPLC market, which helps small to medium-sized enterprises link data lines between their Hong Kong and China operations, accelerated after the mainland's Ministry of Information Industry cut prices by up to 95 per cent last year. 'After the structural price changes, we are expecting a faster growth rate,' said Chen Chang-juan, vice-president of Guangdong Telecom, a subsidiary of China Telecommunications. 'Leased lines are expected to double by year-end.' China Telecom operates 200 leased lines in Guangdong cities with more than 10,000 IPLC users, according to Chen Hongxiong, head of sales and marketing at China Telecom's data centre in Guangzhou. User numbers grew by a net 3,000 last year and so far this year they are up by 1,200 users. 'There is a shortage of bandwidth, so we are taking a passive stance in promoting the leased line services,' Mr Chen said. Anticipating booming demand for leased lines, HGC has invested HK$200 million in IPLC, mainly for buying facilities and capacity. The joint venture operates 200 leased lines in China, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong. Mr Yip said it consumed more than 700 megabits per second, half the total bandwidth between Hong Kong and China. Although IPLC turnover was not expected to be significant for HGC, Mr Yip said it was an important move in developing the data market.