Japanese mobile firms may unite on standards

Japanese mobile firms may unite on standards

Common technology seen in move to 4G

Japan's giant mobile operators look likely to adopt the same technology for their next-generation networks, local media has reported.

The change is likely to benefit the country's 102 million mobile users, and may belatedly remove one of the stumbling blocks that has hindered Japanese mobile phone makers' entry into the international market.

KDDI, Japan's second largest mobile phone operator, will probably move to the Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile standard when it rolls out its next-generation networks in the coming years.

The country's largest mobile operator, NTT DoCoMo, has already thrown its weight behind LTE and has been joined by smaller operators.

LTE is an evolutionary development of the 3G Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) which moves UMTS closer to so-called 4G mobile technology.

KDDI currently uses the CDMA-2000 standard, while its local competitors use W-CDMA, which is little used elsewhere in the world.

The country's adoption of unusual mobile technologies has also been seen as a burden for local mobile makers.

While Japanese mobile phone manufacturers dominate in their home market, most have had less luck overseas with the partial exception of Sony's joint venture with Sweden's Ericsson.

This focus on Japan's preferred mobile technologies leaves them less prepared for competition in foreign markets, most of which rely on more popular global mobile standards such as GSM.

The move to a common standard will be accompanied by new regulations that are expected to increase competition and ultimately bring down prices, as they will make it easier for users to switch operators.

In related news, South Korea's telecoms regulators are also introducing rules that will make it easier for subscribers to transfer Sim cards between mobiles from different operators.