NTT DoCoMo hit with another handset glitch

NTT DoCoMo Inc. said late Tuesday a problem with one of its handsets, the seventh glitch so far this year, is preventing about 100,000 users from receiving calls under certain conditions.

The problem occurs on the P503i handset, which is manufactured for DoCoMo by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., better known by its Panasonic brand name. In response to the problem, DoCoMo is withdrawing the handset from sale for two weeks to allow new software to be loaded into as-yet-unsold handsets.

In certain cellular base station areas, or cells, reception of both voice and e-mail is cut off every seven or 20 minutes because the phone can not receive paging information sent from base stations due to a gap in the timing of radio wave transmissions between phones and base stations, DoCoMo said in a statement. It does not occur during battery charging and does not affect outbound calls, e-mail or I-mode services, the company said.

DoCoMo plans to fix the problem by sending a control signal to adjust the timing of the transmission between the handset and base station, it said. The work should be completed by Aug. 20 and users of affected handsets will be notified by mail in the meantime. Users can also take their handsets into DoCoMo shops to have new software loaded into the handsets to correct the problem.

There are 800,000 of the handsets in use although the problem affects only one in eight of them, said DoCoMo. The glitch is the seventh reported so far this year by DoCoMo and the second concerning the P503i. Earlier this year it identified a problem with the telephone that caused a complete reset and the loss of all stored data under certain conditions.

Most recently the carrier has had problems with a handset manufactured by Sony Corp. The SO503i, a Java-compatible handset for DoCoMo's network, was recalled in May because of software and security problems. In February, DoCoMo also identified problems with handsets manufactured by Sony, Japan Radio Co. Ltd., Ericsson Mobile Communications Japan KK and Hitachi Kokusai Denki Inc.

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