Hutchison Global Communications Holdings (HGC) has fired the latest salvo in its bid to win market share in the hyper-competitive telecommunications market. Following last month's launch of a flat rate IDD calling plan that sparked a mini price war among competitors, the firm is now offering its fixed-line and broadband subscribers a heavily discounted monthly tariff on sister company 3 Hong Kong's 2G mobile-phone network if they switch to the service from rival mobile operators. Analysts said the offer created Hong Kong's first quadruple play of mobile and fixed-line telephony, data and television, albeit split over two companies under the umbrella of parent firm Hutchison Telecommunications International. Existing subscribers to HGC's fixed-line service who sign up to the offer and switch their mobile contracts to 3 Hong Kong will pay $9 per month for up to 333 call minutes and other value-added services. The package normally sells for $42, according to a company spokesperson. Bundling services - a triple or quadruple play - is a common trend in the industry as a means of offsetting falling revenues from fixed-line services. Australia's Telstra Corp includes the option of fixed-line phone, mobile, dial-up and Foxtel pay-television subscriptions on the same bill. But the practice also has the added advantage of increasing customer loyalty. 'Having multiple hooks reduces churn significantly,' said Vodafone IT projects manager Ian Jenkins in a recent interview with Total Telecom. IDC fixed-line analyst Claus Mortensen said yesterday: 'The more you tie a customer into one contract, the less likely [he is] to cancel any of the services, because it becomes quite an undertaking for a customer to change all of the services at once to another operator.' HGC subscribers will still have to pay for their mobile service separately. But the move is seen by analysts as a nod to the time when all operators will be offering both fixed and mobile services, rather than as an example of fully fledged fixed-mobile convergence now. 'The boundaries are blurring between fixed and mobile,' Mr Mortensen said. 'Ultimately [fixed mobile convergence] will go both ways. 'In the past few years, we have been talking about mobile operators cannibalising the fixed-line players' revenue, but now we are seeing the melding of the two services together, and that can go either way with fixed players muscling in on the mobile space and vice versa.' One example of that fixed-mobile convergence is British Telecom's Bluephone 2 project now on trial in Britain, involving a mobile phone that routes calls seamlessly over both GSM and Wi-Fi networks. In addition, much of the hype surrounding WiMAX and other broadband wireless access technology is over the inclusion of a mobile capability that would arguably enable fixed-line carriers to take on mobile operators in the new converged telecommunications space. In fact, Mr Mortensen expects fixed-line giant PCCW to begin a mobile service offering in the near future, either via acquisition, or through the wholesale purchase of mobile minutes from a Hong Kong operator. 'It will become important to offer a complete package of services for consumers and businesses,' he said. One Hong Kong-based analyst with a regional investment bank agreed PCCW would follow suit in the longer term, but argued HGC's offer would have only a 'marginal impact' on the broader market in the meantime, based on the fact that many of the firm's fixed-line subscribers are already likely to be 3 Hong Kong subscribers. 'There may be some downside for rival mobile operators,' he said. 'But it will only be a maximum of 100,000 subscribers at stake.' HGC has 240,000 fixed-line and 170,000 broadband subscribers. 'Hutchison will certainly not see its fixed-line subscriber base double on the back of this,' he said. 'But it is a chance for Hutchison to differentiate themselves ... if they can win 50,000 subscribers this way, then good for them.' Not the market-altering arrival of convergence then, but certainly a nod in its general direction.