Hong Kong may have launched 3G services a year ahead of Singapore, but the Lion City is leading in at least one aspect. Singapore's three mobile operators - Singapore Telecommunications, M1 and Starhub - have interconnected to allow video calls across their networks. Meanwhile, Hong Kong's current 3G operators - Hutchison Telecommunications, SmarTone Communications and CSL - are bickering over an agreement. That Singapore is ahead might be because the telecoms regulator there, the Infocom Development Authority (IDA), is keeping a close eye on the mobile operators. The three are conducting network trials and must ensure their signal strength meets requirements set by the IDA. Authority engineers have been cruising along the main roads and the most remote corners of Singapore, using a software programme to monitor 3G signal strength. The cops are out for these 3G operators: if the signals are found to be weaker than mandated, the carrier will be fined S$1 million or could have its licence suspended. Perhaps Hong Kong's warring operators could use the same sort of discipline. Meanwhile, Earful has learned SmarTone is ready to introduce more phones in an effort to win subscribers. The mobile operator, which claims its 3G service is as good as 'Japanese Kobe steak' - Hutchison's has been described as 'fish-ball rice noodles' - is expected to launch its exclusive Sanyo S103 slider phone as early as this month. Rival CSL, which has concentrated on the corporate market, is also preparing another salvo in the handset battles, with a wide screen Nokia 7710 smartphone in the works. The model boasts a wide 640x320 pixel touch-screen, which should make viewing the internet a breeze. Earful is feeling a surge of enthusiasm for broadband wireless access technology from fixed-line operators. Hong Kong Broadband Network recently completed a trial using a new 3.5GHz technology based on the 802.3 standard. New World Telecom is testing its backbone for a possible deployment of WiMAX. Au Man-ho, head of the Office of the Telecommunication Authority, has said that broadband wireless access will be capable of providing full mobility services like 3G in just a few years. 'The differentiation of regulation based on fixed and mobile networks will not be sustainable sooner or later,' he said in his recent column. With fixed-mobile convergence promising to reshape the telecoms sector worldwide, is Mr Au hinting that a unified regulatory regime is on the horizon?