The market for internet telephony looks to be heating up, with No3 fixed-line provider Wharf T&T preparing to launch services with sister company i-Cable Communications next month. The pair will take advantage of i-Cable's extensive network, which passes 1.8 million homes in Hong Kong. Last week, the Office of the Telecommunications Authority declared i-Cable a 'non-dominant' player in the fixed-line market, meaning it has free reign to set prices and bundle voice, data and pay-TV. According to a company insider, the two companies will select a non-Wharf residential district to soft launch the new service, which has been in trials for the past few years. Wharf's move is clearly a response to rival City Telecom, which earlier this month launched an internet phone service for just $38 a month. City Telecom said the service could be used with broadband offerings from PCCW and HGC, but not i-Cable as the network did not offer stable connection speeds. With Wharf offering its new service, attention now turns to whether dominant fixed-line PCCW will do the same. China Mobile chairman and chief executive Wang Xiaochu is administering some harsh medicine to content service providers. A crackdown on spam and pornographic content in short messaging and interactive voice response (IVR) services was the short-term pain needed to ensure the industry's long-term health, he said last Thursday. The comments followed news that China Mobile had barred Sohu.com and three other service providers from operating picture services for a year. In addition, the IVR business of Sina.com had been temporarily suspended. Mr Wang maintained just a handful of operators needed to clean up their act. 'One person who is sick does not mean that everyone will have to take the medicine,' he said. It later emerged that China Mobile had in fact punished 22 service providers in all - enough to fill up an entire hospital ward.