Japan's DDI, IDO Launch 64K Cellular Data Service

Japanese cellular operators DDI Cellular Group and Nippon Ido Tsushin Inc. have launched a new packet data service on their CDMA networks that enables users to transmit data at 64K bits per second (bps).

The new service represents the fastest wireless data service available in Japan, surpassing the 28.8K bps packet data service offered by operators on PDC (personal digital communications) networks, a cellular system used only in Japan.

Together, both companies have been offering a nationwide CDMA (code division multiple access) network since early 1999, although since launch the system has only supported data transmission at speeds up to 14.4K bps.

To coincide with the launch of the service, which is being marketed under the name PacketOne64, both companies also announced a new range of handsets that support the faster data rate.

The system is likely to have little competition until NTT Mobile Communications Network Inc., better known as NTT DoCoMo, launches its third-generation W-CDMA (wideband CDMA) network in Tokyo in early 2001.

Rival operators of PHS (personal handyphone system) networks, a lower powered wireless system also used only in Japan, have been able to offer 32K bps since the systems launched several years ago, and recently launched their own 64K bps data services. However, these rely on tying together two channels to make the higher speed, something that is not always possible when the network is busy.

The two companies also announced they ended December with 3.5 million subscribers to their CDMA-based service and aim to have 5 million subscribers by the end of March this year and 10 million subscribers by the end of March 2001. DDI Corp., the parent company of DDI Cellular Group, Nippon Ido Tsushin and telecommunications carrier KDD Corp. last month announced plans to merge into a single company later this year [See "Japan's DDI, KDD, IDO Announce Merger Plans," Dec. 16, 1999].

DDI Cellular Group, in Osaka, is on the Web at http://www.ddi.co.jp/cellular/.

Nippon Ido Tsushin, in Tokyo, is on the Web at http://www.ido.co.jp.

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