Japan WAP subscriptions hit 1 Million

The number of cellular telephone subscribers in Japan with WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) enabled telephones has hit 1 million, according to WAP system supplier Phone.com.

The company, which supplies the WAP gateway to providers and the microbrowsers for telephones, said in a statement the landmark was reached on Wednesday.

WAP-based services began in Japan in April 1999 when DDI unit DDI Cellular and Nippon Ido Tsushin launched the service on a new CDMA (code division multiple access) network. The Tu-Ka Cellular Group, which was acquired by DDI last year, has also launched a similar service on its PDC (personal digital communications) network, a Japanese cellular standard.

There are several hundred WAP sites in Japan offering content covering everything from business news and weather to train timetables, horoscopes and chat services, some of which are available on a low-priced monthly subscription.

The carriers compete with NTT Mobile Communications Network (NTT DoCoMo) which has its own system called i-mode. Although technically different from WAP, to users the two services appear virtually identical and offer access to the same types of information and services. According to the most recent data from NTT DoCoMo, its slickly-marketed i-mode service had 4.6 million users at the beginning of March.

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