Rivals try to provide a clearer picture of HDTV plans To be, or not to be? That was Ricky Wong Wai-kay's question as he cast doubt on PCCW's bid to offer a high-definition television (HDTV) service. Mr Wong, chairman of Hong Kong Broadband Network, said there were technical hurdles that rival PCCW must clear before it could deliver HDTV. With HDTV, subscribers would get about five times more picture information - known as picture elements or pixels - than with conventional TV. This means cinema-quality viewing, with higher resolution video and sharp, theatre-like audio. On Wednesday, PCCW group managing director Jack So Chak-kwong unveiled a plan to upgrade the firm's Now Broadband TV service to HDTV for a launch in the fourth quarter. Mr So said PCCW would be ready for HDTV as soon as it cranked up the data transmission speed of its network from 6?megabits per second to 8Mbps. Its network performance would eventually be adjusted to reach 25Mbps. 'I wonder how they can do it with DSL [digital subscriber line] technology at just 8Mbps,' Mr Wong said. 'HDTV takes up a full 8Mbps, and if you also use broadband connection to browse the Web it takes up another 1Mbps ... Also, for technical reasons, when an operator says it offers 8Mbps, the actual speed is really reduced by 1Mbps.' DSL allows for fast data connections using ordinary telephone lines. Mr Wong said HDTV was also on his company's agenda, thanks to its recently launched 1 gigabit per second residential broadband offering. Claus Mortensen, an analyst at research firm International Data Corp, said HDTV needed 25Mbps connection. But he said a network operator could roll out the service with 8Mbps data transmission, depending on the advanced signal compression and decompression technology it used. 3G interconnectivity tests users' patience Meanwhile, in the mobile phone service arena, interconnection issues remain a sticking point to growing video call traffic between the city's 3G network operators. SmarTone Telecommunications recently said it would be about two more months before its subscribers could finally send or receive video calls from customers of Hutchison Telecom's 3G network. When asked to confirm this development, 3 Hong Kong managing director Agnes Nardi said technical tests between the two sides are proceeding and future commercial arrangements were being discussed. But she said the last engineering report she received showed that SmarTone's network still could not send a video message across 3 Hong Kong's. Hutchison offers a video mail service that allows callers to leave a short video clip that can be retrieved later and a video call service which displays a cartoon character in place of the face of the caller.