Japanese mobile operator NTT DoCoMo will offer third-generation (3G) mobile services in the UK and other European countries in partnership with Dutch telco KPN and Hong Kong-based Hutchinson Whampoa.
The companies plan to share the cost of securing 3G licences as well as the building of the networks and products in France, Germany, Belgium and the UK.
In April this year, Hutchinson and Canadian firm TIW secured a 3G licence in the UK for £4.4bn, through a new company called Hutchinson 3G UK. Under the new agreement, NTT DoCoMo and KPN will acquire a combined 35 per cent stake in Hutchinson 3G UK for £2.1bn. TIW will get £50m of this for waiving its option to acquire a 3.5 per cent stake in Hutchinson 3G UK.
The companies will also look to swoop on 3G licences in Belgium, France and Germany. In the UK, where bids for spectrum licences topped more than £22bn, analysts criticised the bids for being too high, and it was feared that operators will have spent so much on licences that they will not be able to afford the cost of building networks.
The new alliance has agreed to work together to "share the costs of growing their 3G businesses". The companies expect European customers to derive substantial benefits through enhanced services.
Keiji Tachikawa, president of NTT DoCoMo, said: "We are truly excited by this opportunity to accelerate the deployment of mobile multimedia services in Europe. Europe will be next after Japan to implement UMTS (universal mobile telecommunications system) and will provide an opportunity for us to leverage our technology and experience to successfully develop new 3G businesses on the global scene."
In Japan, NTT DoCoMo's mobile internet technology, called iMode, has been a success. This alliance brings the technology to the UK, threatening the success of Wap technology.
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