It was the best of times, it was... well, it really was the best of times! Also, as the famous line from Dickens goes, it was the age of wisdom, the age of foolishness and the season of... Softbank Mobile.
Looking back on 2006, it's hard to decide which news from Japan's mobile scene was the most spectacular. Vodafone pulled out, Softbank stood up, mobile number portability struck like a tsunami, a record number of new handsets hit the street and - as December winds down - Motorola's Razr is the first foreign-made 3G celly to win massive market popularity (according to Moto, that is - we bet Samsung's 709SC - at 12.9mm think - will outsell the Razr).
Here's a quick look at what caught WWJ's attention in '06.
NEC Corporation announced that it has started delivery of a new 3G (W-CDMA) Node B series "RS381, RS880." The new series features Remote Radio Head (RRH) architecture, which divides the Node B into a main controller and a compact RRH outdoor unit. This allows flexible installation as the RRH outdoor unit can be installed within several dozen kilometers of the site, enabling response to a variety of situations and conditions.
HitachiSoft has announced the launch of its "GeoMation Keitai" series, a GIS (Geographic Information System) product that will allow users to view and renew GIS-managed business data previously restricted to environments such as the office LAN from their mobile phones. "GeoMation Keitai" enables users not only to view business data from the field, but also renew it securely from their mobile phones. The software can be used with DoCoMo and au, and is compatible with other mobile phone applications.
Seiko Epson Corp. has developed an ultra-sensitive, ultra-compact GPS module to meet high demand from manufacturers of mobile phones and other handsets with GPS functionality. Volume shipment of the S4E19863 series has already begun, the product has been loaded in all GPS-capable models of the FOMA903i series phones recently released by DoCoMo. According to the companies press release this chip is the world's smallest commercial GPS module at 7 mm x 6 mm x 1.28 mm.
New market entrant IPMobile, which was granted a carrier license by Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in November 2005, will conduct advanced TD-SCDMA field trials in Tokyo later this month. While the company's commercial launch - expected in early 2007 - will offer a maximum theoretical download speed of 11Mbps, the so-called E-R7 (evolved release 7) promises data-centric downloads as fast as 42.2Mbps.
KDDI Corp. was forced to stop accepting mobile phone orders because of a computer glitch caused by a surge in calls on Sunday. KDDI officials said that au's service computer that handles the orders slowed down at about 4 p.m. on Sunday, and stopped receiving orders. It began receiving orders at about 4:40 p.m., but again stopped at about 5 p.m. because of the computer glitch. The service resumed receiving orders on Monday, officials said.
Japan has launched live-cast for DoCoMo 3G phones, one of the world's largest geostationary satellites, in a bid to improve mobile telephone reception in remote areas. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched the H-2A rocket at 3:32 pm (12:02 IST) as planned after a postponement Saturday due to cloudy weather at the launch site at Tanegashima in southern Japan. The experimental satellite, which is known as Kiku Number 8, is the largest built by Japan's space agency. It weighs about 3 tons and is 40 meters long.
NTT DoCoMo announced today that it plans to acquire approximately 6 million shares of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company - PLDT - or 3.2% of total issued and outstanding shares, for an estimated 30 billion Japanese yen. The investment will further strengthen DoCoMo's relationship with PLDT and Smart Communications, PLDT's wholly owned mobile subsidiary. Smart, with DoCoMo's backing, intends to launch the i-mode service and expanded 3G services in the Philippines.
Toshiba Corp. has announced that it will sell its entire stake in Japanese label Toshiba EMI Ltd. to Britain's EMI Group Plc, saying that it would sell its stake for about 21 billion yen ($179 million). One of Japan's major music and entertainment companies, Toshiba EMI is currently controlled 45 percent by Toshiba and the remaining 55 percent by the British music group. Toshiba accepted an offer from the EMI Group as "the music content business today is less relevant to other businesses within the Toshiba Group," it said in a statement.
NTT DoCoMo and Hutchison Essar announced today an agreement under which Hutch will launch the i-mode mobile service in India within 2007. DoCoMo will license the patented technologies and know-how needed for Hutch to offer i-mode on GSM, GPRS and W-CDMA networks. Preparations are also underway to launch i-mode in Hong Kong, Macao and the Philippines. DoCoMo plans to expand the service to a total of 26 countries/regions in the future.
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MobileMonday Tokyo is a leading networking organization supporting Tokyo's mobile industry. We launched in September 2004, with over 70 events to-date, hosting an average 100-200 industry delegates. MobileMonday is an open platform for mobile industry visionaries, developers and industry insiders fostering cooperation and business development through live networking events to share ideas, best practices and trends from global markets. Chapters are active in over 100 cities worldwide and new locations continue to launch monthly. Founded in Helsinki, Finland, in 2000, MobileMonday is organized by a global team of 300+ volunteers and it has become the world's largest mobile community network. Details via MoMo Tokyo website
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