NTT DoCoMo, Inc. (NTT DoCoMo) announced today that it will launch an IMT-2000 third-generation (3G) mobile communications on an introductory basis for a limited number of users in Japan between May 30, 2001 and September 30, 2001.
The full-scale commercialization of NTT DoCoMo's 3G services, branded FOMA (Freedom Of mobile Multimedia Access), is now scheduled for October 1, 2001. Since this will be the world's first commercial launch of IMT-2000 services, NTT DoCoMo has decided that the "Introductory Service" is warranted to ensure reliable operation.
The "Introductory Service" will be used to assess system performance and provide customer feedback for the full-scale launch in October. Users will be provided with free handsets and will be exempted from paying basic monthly fees, but not actual communication charges, in return for filling out questionnaires about the 3G services and offering comments and suggestions regarding possible improvements.
The "Introductory Service" will be part of a phased rollout of IMT-2000 commercial services. NTT DoCoMo believes that its step-by-step approach will effectively support the popularization of FOMA services, which will offer customers a full range of useful broadband communications and advanced applications.
In accordance with this decision, the company has applied with the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications to amend the dates of its IMT-2000 service operation license. DoCoMo has already completed the installation of 200 base stations, related networks and other facilities within the "Introductory Service" area.
Further details about the "Introductory Service" are provided in the attachments.
FOMA "Introductory Service": background information
Specifications of the IMT-2000 international communications standard are being revised every three months as a result of ongoing discussions within the 3GPP. With an aim to launch the service on May 30, 2001, NTT DoCoMo has been working to add essential specifications from the September 2000 and December 2000 versions to the fundamental June 2000 version.
DoCoMo has already checked a vast number of items in order to launch its new service. However, the number of items requiring verification has increased, mainly due to a need to reflect the March 2001 version of the specification. Thus, NTT DoCoMo decided to upgrade the stability of the system even after May 30, although the quality of normal service has been secured.
NTT DoCoMo believes that further testing is needed in order to guarantee an even higher level of system stability. Accordingly, it has decided to offer the "Introductory Service" to a large number of people who will use it under various using conditions.
The trial also will enable users to provide user feedback on the utility of the new IMT-2000 service early in the service period.