Japan's three major telecommunications carriers were the only applicants for licenses to operate third generation mobile telecommunications services, the Japanese government has confirmed.
The government was offering three licenses in each of nine regions of the country and making them available free of charge in a process that ended on May 12.
Applications were received from NTT DoCoMo, J-Phone Group and the combined group of DDI Cellular and Nippon Ido Tsushin, which will merge in October. The companies, all of which operate mobile phone networks, are respectively affiliated with Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, Japan Telecom and DDI, Japan's big three telecommunications carriers. In a statement, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) said it has received authorisation to issue licenses to the applicants.
Of the carriers, NTT DoCoMo and J-Phone will launch services based on the W-CDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) technology developed jointly in Europe and Japan, while DDI will use the competing MC-CDMA (Multi Channel CDMA) system, which is also known as CDMA 2000 in North America.
NTT DoCoMo intends to be the first to launch services. It said in its license application that it plans to switch on its network in the Tokyo area in May 2001, according to the MPT. Services will be launched in the Nagoya and Osaka areas in December 2001 with operations in all major cities online by April 2002.
J-Phone plans to launch its service simultaneously in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya in December 2001. Nationwide service is planned for October 2002.
In contrast, DDI Cellular's new service won't be online until September 2002 in Tokyo and Osaka and service in other regions is not expected until March 2004. The carrier faces a longer delay because development of MC-CDMA is not as advanced as that of W-CDMA.