Earful has received an earful from several industry players about behind-the-scenes lobbying by Hutchison Telecom, which is fighting the government to keep its CDMA licence. If you recall, the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (Ofta) has received a record 66 submissions in response to its proposal to issue a fifth third-generation licence using spectrum now deployed by Hutchison for its CDMA service. Sources tell us several of the respondents - which include everyone from equipment vendors to investment banks - were asked by Hutchison to submit arguments in the company's favour. One supplier told Earful that Hutchison Telecom managing director Agnes Nardi had phoned him several times in one week to get his support. Specifically, he was asked to make the 'business continuity' argument, which holds that taking back the CDMA licence from Hutchison would disrupt service to its tiny customer base of 40,000. In another example, a content supplier had been asked to submit a response to Ofta; Hutchison provided a draft and all that was required of the supplier was his signature. In a third case, an account manager from an equipment supplier gave a response to Ofta, but the company's local office later sent another letter to clarify the first had been delivered at Hutchison's request. Asked about the lobbying efforts, Hutchison said in a written reply the company was making every effort to communicate its views with all industry players, to 'let them understand the implications of [the proposal] and rally support on the issue'. It added: 'We can assure you that the entire process was performed in a professional and ethical manner.' Although China Mobile and China Unicom have suspended scores of content service providers for breaking rules on pornography and spam, the crackdown won't hurt the operators' revenue. The tough measures against undesirable content have created a new growth industry: fines. Sohu.com alone will pay US$10 million to China Mobile. The recent clampdown has industry watchers pondering why regulators seem so eager to rein in the industry now. Here's one explanation, if you believe it: this year is the 100th anniversary of Deng Xiaoping's birthday. We all need to pay tribute to the great leader by keeping clean. Wharf T&T is offering a big promotion on IDD services. The company's long-distance unit, EC Telecom, has been cold-calling phone users, offering a rate of five cents per minute for hot destinations such as the mainland, Britain, the United States and Australia. Customers must place calls through their mobile phones using the company's 1507 access code. The rock-bottom rate could draw away users from fixed-line IDD operators, who cannot lower rates any further. These players pay PCCW 12.1 cents per minute for overseas calls patched through the dominant operator's fixed-line network. China Unicom's dual-mode handset that works on both GSM and CDMA has been a hot seller, despite the steep 4,000 yuan price tag. Chairman and chief executive Wang Jiangzhou said the company was selling about 3,000 units a day. 'We're facing a shortage of Worldwind phones. It's been selling so well that we don't have enough stock to meet customers' demands,' he said. The attraction appears to be worldwide roaming - a convenience for people who travel regularly. The firm also hopes to draw China Mobile's high-end clients, who are reluctant to switch carriers due to a lack of number portability.