FEWER restrictions on China's telecommunications policies will help to achieve the huge investment potential for paging and mobile phones on the mainland. Star Paging's general manager, Alfred Shao, said: ''Obviously [investment] potential is huge [on the mainland], in view of the bad infrastructure in China.'' However, he said he did not expect this potential to be realised completely, unless China relaxed its telecom laws. He said: ''It depends on China's telecom policy because China is still very conservative about opening the telecommunications market to outsiders.'' However, he said he was confident reform would come, as a result of the intense lobbying of the Chinese government by the major foreign telecommunications firms, which were hoping to make direct equity investments in the Chinese market. Under the present telecom policy, China does not allow outsiders to operate in the telecommunications business, but does allow them to invest through syndicated loans, technology transfers and hire purchase agreements. ABC Communications deputy managing director Patricia Yeung said deregulation of the investment laws would mean service levels were improved because of competition, and that this competition would lead to a big rise in the penetration rate of pagers and mobile phones. ''The market for both [paging and mobile phones] is very robust at the moment,'' she said, adding that the number of paging subscribers had doubled during the past year to two million, and that the number of mobile cellular phone users had also doubled to 400,000 during the same period. Miss Yeung said the region with the greatest investment potential was the south - particularly Guangdong. Mr Shao said he felt even more bullish. ''I believe it [investment potential] will spread, especially to Shanghai and south-western parts,'' he said.