Third-generation (3G) mobile phone provider Hutchison Telecom yesterday was keeping sales of its new handsets close to its chest but claiming a steady stream of custom across its 13 shops. 'We will have to wait some more time before any figures can be disclosed,' a company spokesman said. The company earlier said 50,000 handsets had been stocked in Hong Kong and more than 1,000 customers had signed up to its '3' service in the three days before Tuesday's official launch. One front-office salesman in the firm's Central store said he had sold 'many, many' 3G handsets. When asked exactly how many, he said: 'It's a secret... but the response has been very good.' Broker Kenneth Fung, 27, who had just bought four handsets with a friend, said he was attracted by 3G's 'novelty' factor. 'I think it will eventually take off in Hong Kong. 'It may take one to two years, but it is good to be among the first to obtain the new technology,' he said. Manufacturing executive Patrick Li, 31, who had also just paid $4,380 for the NEC c616 handset, said the video-conferencing facility was a big drawcard. 'I am only buying one, but it seems most people are buying a pair,' he said. 'It is hard to work out at the moment just who else has one and how many are out there. 'So the first thing I am going to do is go into the office and see how well it works through the computer.' Hutchison, controlled by tycoon Li Ka-shing, is the first operator in Hong Kong to offer the service - which allows users to download videos, access e-mail and make video phone calls - after a year of delays. The 3 service was launched amid a blaze of publicity. Outdoor billboards, taxis, newspapers, internet, TV commercials and the Cheung Kong Centre in Central have all been splashed with the 3 logo. Agnes Nardi, managing director of 3 Hong Kong, said: 'We have established a world-class 3G network with full coverage, providing mobile users with unsurpassed and the richest video-based communications, information and entertainment content.' Users can also watch video news, up-to-date video financial news, video highlights of popular TV drama series, highlights of sports matches, real-time video traffic conditions, movie trailers, music videos and soft porn.