While Hong Kong's multimedia messaging system splits into two camps, local operators insist the MMS system will succeed. After many months of silence, MMS interoperability between local phone companies, seen as crucial for the service's success, was announced separately by Hong Kong's six leading wireless carriers. First SmarTone said users subscribing to its MMS service could exchange messages with Hutchison Telecom and Peoples Telephone subscribers. New World Mobility announced interoperability on the same day with CSL and Sunday. According to sources close to some of the firms involved, SmarTone's camp has largely invested in Ericsson MMS infrastructure while its three opposites have chosen Nokia equipment. Differences in implementation have resulted in compatibility problems between the MMS equipment from the two vendors, delaying cross-operator interconnection. CSL spokeswoman Vivian Shek said CSL was in interconnection talks with SmarTone, Hutchison and Peoples but there was no clear deadline for their MMS services to work together. 'We are announcing interconnection relationships as and when deals are completed. The perceived delay is not because we are on different technology platforms.' She said wireless carriers in Hong Kong were fully aware of the importance of MMS interconnection as a result of 'the lesson learnt from SMS'. 'We have to spend a lot of time testing the networks, agreeing on the fee structure so it is not so easy to establish interconnection. It takes time but it will definitely happen,' she said. Ms Shek said more than 50 per cent of MMS handsets sold by CSL had been used with its MMS service though she would not reveal the number of MMS subscribers CSL had, or the number of MMS handsets sold. Gartner Group analyst Ann Liang said it was still 'early days for MMS'. 'We just feel that the fees for [General Packet Radio Service] and MMS have to get cheaper, there must be a wider choice of handsets, service plans must become more comprehensive before we see mainstream adoption of MMS,' she said. Ms Liang said less than 10 per cent of MMS handsets sold in the Asia-Pacific region were bought by MMS subscribers. 'Most are still buying MMS handsets for the colour screen and design and not really for the MMS service,' Ms Liang said. Every wireless operator in Hong Kong has a different MMS fee structure. Peoples' MMS service is free until the end of the year. Hutchison Telecom charges a flat fee while CSL and SmarTone have two to three packages according to usage levels. MMS messages are sent through the operators' GPRS networks and GPRS subscription and monthly fees are charged separately from MMS fees. With interoperability between the carriers, both sender and recipient will be charged for each message.