TOKYO — A consortium led by NTT DoCoMo, one of Japan’s major mobile communications companies, has received a government nod to begin offering a broadcasting service targeting cellphone and other mobile device users, using frequencies to be vacated when analog broadcasts end in July. The skedded date for the start of services is spring 2012.
In a report released Wednesday an advisory body to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications recommended the system proposed by NTT DoCoMo over that of rival KDDI for regulatory approval. The final decision has yet to be handed down, but the chance of the Ministry rejecting the advisory body’s recommendation is considered nil.
To launch its mobile service biz, NTT DoCoMo plans to plans to split group company Multimedia Broadcasting into two entities, with one providing the broadcasting infrastructure and the other handling contents, in partnership with various contents providers. The infrastructure company will use made-in-Japan technology in contrast to KDDI, which planned to use a system developed by U.S.-based Qualcomm.
The service will offer pics, games, TV shows and large quantities of other visual content directly to mobile device users. To reach the break-even line it will have to attract at least 3 million subs, which may prove to be a tall order, especially if loser KDDI does not adopt the NTT DoCoMo system and enable its 32 million subs to use the service. Another major mobile company, Softbank, is reportedly already on board with NTT DoCoMo.