TOKYO (04/05/2000) - NTT DoCoMo Inc., Japan's leading cellular telephone carrier, has applied to the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) for licenses to operate a next generation cellular network, it said in a statement.
The company's application came as the MPT began accepting applications for licenses to provide third generation (3G) wireless services. The new networks will take advantage of new technology and are expected to offer a wide range of multimedia services with a maximum data transmission rate at launch of 384K bps (bits per second) -- almost 27 times faster than NTT DoCoMo's existing service.
NTT DoCoMo said it applied for licenses to operate services in the Kanto and Shinshu regions, where it currently operates second generation networks, and its regional affiliates across Japan also applied for 3G licenses in their respective regions. Together, the companies will provide a nationwide service should they all win licenses.
In the local telecommunications industry there is little doubt that NTT DoCoMo will be awarded the licenses it has requested. The company is Japan's dominant cellular carrier and has already ploughed billions of yen into development of next generation systems.
Additionally, after the MPT announced it would licence three carriers in each region, the industry fell into line through a series of mergers and acquisitions and formed itself into three main carrier groups. Against this background, it would be a major coup if any other carrier were able to break into the market and win licenses to operate 3G services in Japan.
In its license application, NTT DoCoMo says it plans to start initial commercial service around the end of May 2001 in metropolitan Tokyo and the nearby cities of Kawasaki and Yokohama. Service in the Tokai and Kinki regions, which include the cities of Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto, is expected to start in December 2001, with service in the rest of the nation beginning in April 2002.
NTT DoCoMo, which on April 1 changed its name from NTT Mobile Communications Network Inc., is based in Tokyo and can be found online at http://www.nttdocomo.co.jp/.