Thursday, October 30, 2008

NTT DOCOMO Outlines Plans for Next Gen Services

NTT DOCOMO outlined a wide-ranging plan to be implemented between 2008 and 2012 that will transform the company from being primarily a mobile voice operator in a mature market into a provider of a advanced services that enrich people's lives.

After a period of rapid expansion, the Japanese mobile communications market has entered a mature phase. Now that total subscriptions exceed 100 million, it is difficult to expect further growth on a significant level unless breakthroughs are made. In addition, customers' values have diversified and their demands have become increasingly sophisticated.

DOCOMO believes that the market has potential for significant growth if services that take advantage of unique mobile properties -- such as real-time immediacy, personal authentication and geo-location -- can be developed in conjunction with the evolution of networks and handsets. The increasing adoption of open-platform handsets and entry of new global players will produce new services that transcend conventional boundaries and thereby propel further advancements and diversification in the market.

Perceiving this as an opportunity, DOCOMO said it intends to drive innovation in collaboration with a wide range of partners on a global scale, committing the company to taking on the challenge of creating new value by leveraging the virtually unlimited potential of mobile phones.

Given the high level of market saturation and competition, DOCOMO is also undertaking steps to strengthen its core business. Chief among these is an effort to boost packet ARPU by expanding the uptake of video services and pushing flat-rate plans for packet access. The company will expand the uptake and usage of smart phones and data cards, etc., which are expected to see a growth in demand in line with the expansion of the market for second-phones used mainly for data access, etc.

DOCOMO will also trim expenses by 10 percent. This will include a nationwide optimization of customer call centers and
bill collection operations, as well an an improved supply chain management and nationwide optimization of logistics operations. The company will implement measures to reduce greenhouse gas emission from its network facilities by introducing solar power systems and adopting other natural energy sources under the "Green NTT" initiative.

In terms of growing its network, DOCOMO plans to roll-out LTE from 2010, as one of the first adopters in the world. It also expects LTE to be adopted as the mainstream strategy of other global operatos. In March 2008, NTT DoCoMo demonstrated a downlink transmission rate of 250 Mbps over a high-speed wireless network in an outdoor test of an experimental Super 3G system for mobile communications. The "Super 3G" system trial has been underway using an actual wireless environment near its R&D labs in Yokosuka, just south of Tokyo, since February.

In terms of next-gen handsets, DOCOMO plans to adopt open platforms supporting enhanced hardware and software. It envisions a wide diversification of designs and user interfaces. DOCOMO will contribute to a globally common handset platform leveraging the technical/service advancements achieved through the commercial introduction of Linux/Symbian handsets, and bundling DOCOMO-specific software in a package. DOCOMO will aim to advance services by optimizing the allocation of functions between the handset and network. For example, by partially dispersing the processing load to the network leveraging its high-speed, low-latency and large-capacity characteristics, it becomes possible to deliver extremely rich services. An example of this could be a natural language translation service between Japanese and French. The handset would have only a thin client. Japanese would be spoken into the handset for translation processing in the network. A full translation into French would be delivered.

DOCOMO seeks to expand geographic coverage and improve the quality of roaming service by leveraging the CONEXUS alliance, which includes as its members KT, smart, FarEasTone, Hutchinson, BSNL, indosat, etc.

In terms of investments, DOCOMO will will make investments in or form alliances with content providers, especially video content providers that add value to the network. DOCOMO is also willing to invest in companies developing elemental handset-related technologies required to realize various advanced services and to reduce costs.

DOCOMO is also setting its sights on larger, social goals. The company will expand its research aimed at creating an infrastructure that contributes to the development of society. It can do so by leveraging such things as traffic data, GPS location and other information from the mobile population. Such data could be useful to predict future trends and aid in the development of safe and environmentally-friendly cities. DOCOMO said it is conduct ing such reseach in collaboration with national/local governments and various industry partners.

A 27-page PowerPoint presentation is online.

  • Last month, NTT DOCOMO has selected Fujitsu to provide Nokia Siemens Networks' core technology for its Super 3G / Long Term Evolution core network. Fujitsu and Nokia Siemens Networks have agreed to cooperate on jointly developing the Service Architecture Evolution (SAE) Gateway, including the Serving Gateway and the PDN Gateway, for the Super 3G project's Long Term Evolution (LTE) core. Financial terms were not disclosed. The selection of SAE Gateway vendors means NTT DOCOMO is on track to be among the world's first operators to introduce LTE into its network.

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