WiMax Licenses Going To KDDI, Willcom

The Communications Ministry has decided to grant licenses for next-generation wireless broadband service to Willcom Inc. and a group led by KDDI Corp. according to the Nikkei. The ministry’s decision is based on an examination of about 120 criteria, including business plans and technologies. KDDI had started development of WiMax technology ahead of others in 2003, and Willcom has a track record for bringing PHS (personal handyphone system), a technology created in Japan, to China.

SoftBank Looking for a Nifty WiMax Partner

Softbank Corp. is in the final stage of talks with access service provider Nifty Corp., and other firms, on a plan to set up a new joint company in order to apply for a 2.5GHz spectrum license. Other possible partners are broadband service provider eAccess Ltd. and Internet access providers So-net Entertainment Corp., NEC Biglobe Ltd and FreeBit Co., according to this report on EE Times.

Japan Telecom Hardware Sales Drop

The CIAJ has released the telecom equipment figures for Q1 fiscal 2007 (April – June) that show negative performance continues in the mobile terminal category, which accounts for approx. 70% of the market. Handset sales account for approximately 67% of the market and therefore has a large impact on overall production figures. The 2007 results show a significant drop from the 2006 figure, but is similar to the performance in 2005.The total number of subscribers continues to increase, indicating that the trend among carriers to purchase high-end products by domestic brands and import low-end modestly priced products from abroad continues.

MVNO Taking DoCoMo to Task

According to Kyodo news, Japan Communications has asked the Ministry to weigh in on its stalled negotiations to use DoCoMo’s network. Japan Communications, which has taken the action under the Telecommunications Business Law, is Japan’s first mobile virtual network operator and currently offers wireless data communications services using Willcom’s PHS network.

Telecom Equipment Figures for FY2006

The CIAJ has released their annual Telecommunication Equipment Production and Trade Figures report covering fiscal 2006. The total value of production was pegged at 2.589 billion yen, down 5.7%, slipping back to negative growth for the fiscal year. Growth categories include wireless network equipment posting 212.7 million yen, up 1.2% over the previous year, of which fixed telecommunication devices accounted for 125.6 million yen an increase of 5.6% YoY. Wireline parts posted 19.1 billion yen which reflects a positive growth of 8.5% compared to fiscal 2005.

Willcom Introduces New Smart Phone

Willcom, Sharp and Microsoft held a press conference yesterday at the Okura Hotel to announce the new W-Zero3 ES smartphone. The 3rd model in their series from Sharp this latest unit weighs in at 157grams and measures just under 18mm thick. Boasting a 3.3 inch VGA (480×800) LCD touch-screen display and the so-called xCrawl jog dial with Windows 6 OS running on Marvells PXA270 520MHz processor and Wi-Fi enabled this device will be available on order here by the end of June. WWJ was on-hand for the event and will post video asap, more details after the jump.

Oki Announces Safety Phone

Oki Electric has succeeded in developing the world’s first ultra small DSRC (Dedicated Short Range Communication) wireless module for embedding in mobile phones to be used for inter-vehicle communication systems. Using this module the company succeeded in trial production of the world’s first mobile phone, “Safety Mobile Phone” specifically designed to improve pedestrian safety. The Safety Mobile Phone notifies vehicles in the surrounding area of its location and retrieves the location information of vehicles in the surrounding area that are equipped with the DSRC system.

Veepers Powers Eshaberi Mail for KDDI

Pulse Mobile announced that the Veepers character animation technology will be pre-installed on all 2007 Summer “au” WIN branded phones from KDDI. Eshaberi Mail (talking mail) allows customers to create naturally talking avatar movies with lip synchronized animations by combining images such as photographs and illustrated characters. Users can also record their own voice which is used to drive characters’ animations.

New Spectrum to Encourage Competition

According to reports coming out of the Japanese media it appears that the communications ministry is leaning towards granting new spectrum licenses to Acca Networks Co. and Willcom Inc. to the predictable surprise and disappointment of the four existing operators. In an apparent effort to encourage more competition the ministry plans to allocate frequency by this autumn and expects the new services using the 2.5-gigahertz frequency band to start within three years after the licenses are granted.

DoCoMo Reports FYE 2006 Earnings

Market leader NTT DoCoMo has just released their accounting for the fiscal year ending 2006. Net income dropped to 457.3 billion yen ($3.8 billion) in the 12 months to 31 March, from 610.5 billion yen a year earlier, when earnings included a 102 billion gain from share sales of Hutchison 3G UK Holdings Ltd. and KPN Mobile. While sales climbed 0.5 percent to 4.79 trillion yen annual profit was down YoY by 25 percent based on increased handset subsidies and 3G network upgrade costs. DoCoMo also noted that ARPU in the fourth quarter fell to 6,530 yen from 6,720 yen a year earlier.