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Senior Correspondent

NTT DoCoMo to sell its first Nokia 3G phone

Feb 15, 20062 mins
Cellular NetworksNetwork Security

NTT DoCoMo Wednesday said it will soon begin offering its first 3G handset from Nokia, the world’s biggest cell phone maker.

The NM850iG handset, which is based on the Nokia 6630 phone, will go on sale from Feb. 24, the carrier said. The dual mode phone supports Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) and GSM networks and NTT DoCoMo’s I-mode wireless Internet service.

Nokia had been absent from the Japanese market for several years until 2003 when Vodafone KK began selling the 6650 handset. A Vodafone version of the 6630, the same handset soon to go on sale through NTT DoCoMo, was launched in December 2004 and Vodafone recently began selling its successor, the 6680. Vodafone is the only Japanese carrier to currently offer Nokia phones.

With NTT DoCoMo about to start selling its first Nokia 3G model that means KDDI’s Au service will soon be the only major network without a Nokia phone. However, that could change soon. On Tuesday, Nokia and Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. announced plans to merge their Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) handset development, manufacturing and marketing into a single company. Sanyo already supplies phones to Au and the Japanese market will be a focus of the new company.

The deal with NTT DoCoMo marks another step for foreign handset makers into what once was an almost impenetrable market. For several years, Japanese consumers have had nothing but local handsets to chose from thanks to Japan’s adoption of the PDC cellular standard that is used nowhere else in the world. However, with the launch of 3G networks based on global standards foreign handset makers have been taking small steps into Japan.

NTT DoCoMo already sells a handset from Motorola and is working with LG Electronics on a phone, Vodafone will soon begin selling a phone from Samsung and Au is offering a phone from South Korea’s Pantech.