New World Mobility this week demonstrated its video phone offerings and is planning a commercial launch in the next few weeks. Hong Kong's fourth-largest mobile phone network, a wholly owned subsidiary of New World Development, has teamed up with United States-based PacketVideo, which is providing the software for the service. New World Mobility chief executive Norman Wai Fung-man said he believed New World would be among the first networks in the world to launch streaming video over mobile phones. The service uses New World's general packet radio service (GPRS) network, which allows data transmissions of up to about 50 kilobits per second, nearly equivalent to a dial-up Internet line. New World passed on bidding for a third-generation (3G) licence last year, which would have allowed it to build a network supporting much higher speeds. Some European operators are testing video telephone services. NTT DoCoMo of Japan has also announced plans to work with PacketVideo. Mr Wai said New World Mobility had been developing and testing the service for more than a year and had delayed the launch in order to coincide with the launch of video-ready handsets. 'We're still waiting for some handset availability before we make it happen. The only thing we haven't announced is the tariff,' Mr Wai said. The company was also waiting for PacketVideo to finish developing software that supports MPEG-4 video compression. For New World and other Hong Kong networks marketing their mobile data services, enticing applications will be key. Most of the six operators are losing money because of stiff competition on voice minutes. While data revenue is seen as one way out of the situation, operators have not yet hit upon any runaway successes in terms of services or applications. Mr Wai expected the downloading of content and accessing Internet-connected cameras to be among the most popular applications in the Hong Kong market. Cartoons, short movie previews and music videos are some of the intended offerings. He said talks were under way with local content companies, although he declined to name them. PacketVideo will also have access to international content 'but the local content is more important for us at the moment', Mr Wai said. New World, Hutchison Whampoa's Orange network and CSL all launched multimedia message service (MMS) earlier this summer. MMS allows users to send pictures via their mobile phones and can only be used on two phone models at the moment, one from Sony Ericsson and one from Nokia. More multimedia phones are expected to hit the market by the end of this year. The networks are in talks on cross-network MMS capabilities, but no announcements have been made. Inter-network short message service (SMS) was launched in Hong Kong only last year, several years later than in other markets. Since then, SMS volume has increased dramatically. Hutchison is likely to be among the other networks with intentions to launch mobile video services, as the company intends to soft-launch its 3G network by the end of this year.