KDDI to start 3G service without voice

By Kuriko Miyake, IDG News Service |  Networking

KDDI Corp., Japan's second largest mobile telecommunication carrier, is planning to start CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) 2000 1X EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized) service next year which will offer high-speed wireless Internet access, but no voice service.

CDMA 2000 1X EV-DO is a third-generation (3G) technology regarded as an alternative to Wideband CDMA (WCDMA), and can offer data transmission speed of up to 2.4M bps (bits per second) using considerably less spectrum than an equivalent WCDMA service.

KDDI plans to provide the wireless Internet service using spectrum in the 2GHz band and expects to start trials in April in 2003 in Tokyo and a commercial service in the following October, said Mitsuyo Someno, a KDDI spokeswoman. Users are expected to access the service through notebook computers and PDAs (personal digital assistants).

In April, Tokyo-based KDDI launched a CDMA 2000 1X mobile telecommunication service, offering voice communication and data transmission speeds up to 144K bps using spectrum in the 800MHz band.

But as long ago as May 2001, KDDI was already seeing strong demand in the Japanese market for broadband Internet services, and so planned to use the 1X EV-DO technology for a data transmission-only service, Someno said.

"At the moment, we feel that the speed of 144K bps for the CDMA 200 1X service of voice and the wireless Internet is satisfying users' needs," Someno said. "However, for those who need to frequently transmit high-volume data, it would be more useful and less costly to provide a separate data-only service."

KDDI also has a plan to add the 1X EV-DO system to the current CDMA 2000 1X service in the 800GHz band within 2003, Someno said.

Japan's largest carrier NTT DoCoMo Inc. is planning a high-speed wireless LAN service and is conducting trials at the moment. However, unlike KDDI's service, the accessibility of wireless LAN will be limited within hotspot areas and is therefore expected to run parallel with its 3G Foma service, NTT DoCoMo's president and chief executive officer Keiji Tachikawa said at a news conference last week.

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