NTT DoCoMo quietly holds first 4G tech summit

NTT DoCoMo has taken its first steps towards getting the telecommunication industry behind its plans for future cellular technologies with the holding earlier this week of a fourth-generation (4G) cellular technology technical summit near Tokyo.

The meeting gathered together representatives of major telecommunication and electronics companies and took place on Tuesday evening in Yokohama but was not publicized by the carrier. It was aimed at generating interest for 4G services and sparking initial discussions between NTT DoCoMo and industry participants, according to people who attended.

"I think it is the first time that all of the members of the ecosystem were pulled together at one site hosted by NTT DoCoMo and to understand their shared vision," said Tony Sica, vice president and director of marketing at Intel Corp.'s Wireless Communications and Computing Group, who attended the meeting.

"I think (Tuesday's) meeting was more discovery for the participants," he said. "As we move forward and have discussions and collaborations with DoCoMo, I think each one of us will understand where we can add value to their road map."

NTT DoCoMo has already begun working on 4G technologies and established a dedicated research and development laboratory near Yokohama earlier this year to pursue the research. Most recently, the company announced the labs had succeeded in transmitting data over an experimental 4G (fourth-generation) mobile telephony system at a downlink speed of 100M bps (bits per second) and an uplink speed of 20M bps.

The company is targeting 2010 for the launch of a commercial service that offers such data transmission speeds, which are around 275 times faster than the 364k bps top speed of the carrier's 3G network.

In addition to its own research, NTT DoCoMo has also disclosed work with Hewlett-Packard Co. in the field of streaming video. Intel's Sica said his company has already begun work with the carrier in the area of security and is now looking at expanding that cooperation into other areas.

"We have been actively working with DoCoMo on the security aspects for some time now," he said. "We talked about e-commerce, that was one area that we want to work closely upon and there is a number of other areas that we are focussing between Intel Labs and DoCoMo Labs to collaborate in areas where DoCoMo can make an impact and have measurable results."

"What Intel is really focused on is a blended vision between the two companies to collaborate in areas that will make this platform ready for 4G in 2010."

NTT DoCoMo's 4G research push began shortly after it commercialized its 3G network -- a network that is still struggling to attract the attention of consumers and has fallen far short of initial predictions.

At the end of September, the carrier's 'Foma' 3G service had attracted 135,700 consumers, according to data from the Telecommunication Carriers Association. DoCoMo had originally said it was expecting to see 1.38 million subscribers using the network by the end of 2002 but recently admitted it would not be able to achieve its goal.

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