While Sunday Communications group managing director Craig Ehrlich said on Wednesday that "a profit sharing agreement" had been worked out, and that the inter-operable SMS might be rolled out by July, his claim was disputed by CSL and Hutchison Telecoms.
"As far was we know, it still hasn't been settled," a spokeswoman for Hutchison told The Business Times. Hutchison, which is owned by tycoon Li Ka-Shing, commands 32 percent of the market.
CSL spokeswoman Michelle Au, said that "all the operators have agreed to work on the inter-operability of our SMS services, but the terms of payment are not set yet". The joint venture between Pacific Century CyberWorks, run by Li's son Richard, and Telstra Corp of Australia, has 19 percent of the market.
However, Au allowed that Ehrlich's estimation of a July roll-out was possible. "There are many technical issues involved and its not just pricing," she noted. "But based on the current schedule, inter-operator SMS may be possible by July."
Assuming Hutchison, Sunday, CSL, SmarTone and their fellow operator can come to terms, the pay-off should be big. CSL's 1 million customers alone generate 10 million SMS messages each month, prompting the company to offer stock quotes, stock trading, mobile banking and even electronic greeting cards.