CLP Telecommunications (CLP TeleCom) has criticised the Government for failing to live up to its promise to fully liberalise the local fixed-line telephone network by 2003. CLP TeleCom, an arm of power utility CLP Holdings, made the criticism in part of its response to a consultation paper issued by the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (Ofta) outlining plans for liberalising the telecoms market. In its response, CLP TeleCom said the Government's proposal to grant road opening rights and access to buildings on a case-by-case basis to new entrants was inconsistent with the spirit of full liberalisation. The Government plans that only selected new entrants will be allowed to build their own networks and facilities, unlike existing operators, which are unrestricted in building networks. Building access for new fixed-line roll-out has been a controversial issue in Hong Kong, where cable entry points to existing buildings are often limited. This is a reason for Ofta's proposal to grant building access on a case-by-case basis. But CLP has argued that all telecoms operators should have equal rights to lay cables and access buildings. CLP TeleCom, in its response, said that without equal access to buildings, and the right to dig up roads to lay their own cables, it would be extremely difficult for new entrants to compete with the market's existing dominant operator, Pacific Century CyberWorks (PCCW). 'With an asymetric structure like this, it will serve only to reinforce the existing lack of contestability to PCCW from the new incumbents. This is founded on the fact that a regime of four 'first class licences' has singularly failed to introduce any significant contestability,' CLP TeleCom said in its response. Analysts also said Ofta's proposals worked against CLP TeleCom's plans to offer fixed-line services to its 1.9 million electricity customers as a primary foothold and through its power grids as a fixed-line network base. At present, CLP TeleCom delivers cross-border Internet connection services by wrapping fibre-optic cable around its existing overhead power cables from Sha Tin to Lowu. CLP TeleCom had planned to use a similar model in order to offer telecoms services over its existing power grid in the New Territories, Kowloon and Lantau Island. Analysts said Ofta's proposals cast uncertainty over CLP Holdings' ambitions to build a complete Internet Protocol and telecoms platform.