"Japan's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications revealed Feb. 14 its policy plan for IMT-2000, which sets conditions for telecom operators to be licensed for the next-generation mobile communications system.
"With this plan, telecom carriers to be licensed for the IMT-2000 will be decided in June or later.
"Based on the policy plan, the ministry will formulate the final policy on introduction of IMT-2000 by the middle of March. The ministry will then start accepting applications from telecom operators starting from early April to the middle of May. The ministry plans to decide licensees for IMT-2000 sometime between late June to early July. Currently, NTT Mobile Communications Network, Inc. (NTT DoCoMo), the DDI group and the J-Phone group are seen as the most possible candidates.
"The policy plan is based on the ministry's conventional policies including the basic policy announced in July 1998. It requires that: (1) the maximum number of telecom operators for each area will be three, and (2) telecom operators will be allowed to be responsible for more than one area and a single carrier will be allowed to cover the entire country.
"It also specifies a policy on radio frequency bands to be actually allocated to the operators as well as conditions for service area development more in detail.
"The ministry decided in the policy plan that the maximum radio frequency band for the operators shall be 30MHz (15MHz for upstream and downstream directions respectively).
"In Japan, the radio frequency band of 120MHz will be allocated for IMT-2000, and therefore each telecom operator was expected to have the radio frequency band of 40MHz (20MHz each for upstream and downstream directions).
"However, it is decided this time that the radio frequency of nearly 1.9GHz will not be allotted for the new mobile communications system because it will interfere with the current personal handyphone systems (PHSs). The radio frequency ranging from 1.92G to 1.925GHz will be specially preserved as a guard band, and thus will not be allotted to telecom operators.
"The ministry decided to allocate the radio frequency band of 30MHz (15MHz x 2) equally to the each operator.
"The ministry also requires in the policy plan that all three telecom operators cover an area with at least half of the population for their telephone services and high-speed data communications services within five years after IMT-2000 services are launched.