The boundaries between fixed-line and mobile broadband services are becoming increasingly blurred in Hong Kong, as mobile operators push offerings designed to entice laptop computer users away from traditional wired internet connections. The city's mobile operators are betting on high-speed packet access technology to provide a mobile service with download speeds between 3.6 and 21 megabits per second. By simply plugging a USB modem into a laptop or home computer with a simple set-up and installation procedure, users can browse the internet through mobile networks. Industry sources said the city's mobile operators would upgrade their networks to improve download speeds within the next six weeks. SmarTone-Vodafone and PCCW plan to boost download speeds to more than 20 megabits per second against the 7.2 megabits per second in the market at present. With the improvement in mobile broadband technology, operators are ready to tap into the fixed-line broadband market as they look for new revenue streams. They are expected to launch campaigns later this year to promote mobile broadband service as a fixed-line broadband replacement. 'As mobile operators continue improving their indoor network coverage and more base stations are connected to fibre networks providing more bandwidth for data transmission, mobile broadband now is ready to compete with fixed-line rivals,' one mobile executive said. The gap between monthly usage fees for mobile and fixed-line broadband service is closing as mobile operators charge users below HK$200 per month for unlimited broadband access, similar to fixed-line broadband offerings. SmarTone-Vodafone, one of the first to launch mobile broadband service three years ago, now charges as little as HK$188 per month for unlimited broadband access with download speeds of up to 3.6 megabits. For a 7.2 megabits per second service, it charges HK$348 per month. To increase its share in the mobile broadband market, SmarTone-Vodafone has introduced a subsidy programme for laptop computer users. Subscribers can get usage fee rebates of up to HK$2,400 on their mobile broadband bills if they buy specific laptop models at authorised shops, then commit to a 24-month contract for the on 7.2 megabits plan. Hutchison Telecommunications International's 3 Hong Kong partnered a dealer to promote its mobile broadband service at a computer exhibition last week. The company offered an Acer Aspire netbook bundled with a 24-month mobile broadband contract for just HK$1,999. CSL last month also introduced the city's fastest mobile broadband service with download speed of up to 21 megabits per second. The NextG service uses HSPA Plus technology to boost the data transmission rate from 7.2 megabits to 21 megabits. CSL chief executive Tarek Robbiati said the new service should provide a better user experience in browsing the internet compared with the previous 3G network. PCCW, which has more than 1 million subscribers for its fixed-line broadband service, offers broadband at transmission speeds of 3 megabits to 1,000 megabits per second. Hong Kong Broadband Network and Hutchison Global Communications provide 100 megabits as their entry-level plans. PCCW has responded to the latest challenges from mobile operators by offering faster upgrades to its fixed-line service. The company, which had relied on traditional fixed telephone lines to provide broadband services, will now offer select users the chance to have an additional 30 megabits per second broadband service for HK$38 more per month in addition to their existing broadband bills.