Ericsson Press Releases

Ericsson launches its first i-mode phone in Japan with NTT DoCoMo

Thursday, December 7, 2000

‘DoCoMo by Ericsson ER209i’ (hereafter ER209i) is Ericsson’s first i-mode enabled mobile phone for the PDC standard. In Japan, the growth of the mobile Internet market is very strong, and NTT-DoCoMo’s i-mode service contributes to this expansion. The number of subscribers who use the i-mode services is 15,227,000 as of November 26, 2000 (reference to data of NTT-DoCoMo).

The ER209i is a very distinct phone in the Japanese market. It is ideal for people who want a phone with high quality features such as excellent voice quality, harmonized ring melodies, and easy-to-use menus.

A unique navigation key allows for quick and easy browsing of i-mode pages. A new sound processing technology allows for excellent and clear communication.

The ER209i also offers Japanese and English bilingual operation. The ER209i weighs only 77 grams while securing 130 minutes of talk time and 310 hours of standby time.

I-mode is the mobile Internet connection service provided by NTT-DoCoMo utilizing its PDC packet network in Japan.

The ER209i provides i-mode services such as e-mail, e-commerce, banking, restaurant data, maps, news, weather forecast, games, character downloading, and access to the Internet.

PDC is the digital standard for mobile systems in Japan, and Ericsson has been delivering complete PDC mobile phone systems in Japan since 1994. Ericsson holds the highest market share of PDC mobile systems among non- Japanese vendors.


PDC market position

Ericsson in the Japanese cellular industry: success mirrors the growth of the world’s second-largest cellular market

After a rather slow start, the Japanese cellular market is expanding rapidly, and now ranks as the world’s second-largest cellular market after the USA. Growth has largely been spurred by the introduction of competition in the marketplace, and the arrival of digital cellular networks operating to the PDC standard. Ericsson is a major PDC supplier: through its joint venture with Toshiba, the company has more than 20 per cent of the PDC network.

The Japanese mobile market is currently enjoying phenomenal growth: in the twelve months prior to August 1996, the number of cellular phone users increased by 132% to a total of 14 million, making Japan the second- largest mobile telephone market in the world, after the USA.

What’s more, Japan still has enormous market potential: the projections are that there will be 50 million mobile subscribers in Japan by the year 2000. Penetration of mobile telephony in Japan was 14 per cent of the population by August 1996, compared with only five per cent a year earlier.

Cellular telephony has long been established in Japan: the first networks opened for commercial service in 1979. However, for a long time monopoly network operation (by NTT), and strict regulation of the industry meant that the number of subscribers stayed very low.

Deregulation of the mobile phone business began in the mid 1980s, when two new operators were given regional licences to operate networks in competition with NTT. IDO (Nippon Idou Tsushin Corporation) was given a licence covering the Tokyo and Nagoya areas; DDI (Daini Denden) was licensed for the rest of Japan. By the end of the 1980s, both these new operators were providing services, based on a Japanese adaptation of the TACS analogue cellular standard operating in the 800MHz band (known as J-TACS).

Although there had been a degree of liberalization, the mobile phone market continued to be very restricted. Phones could only be leased – not bought – and only from one of the three operators, NTT, IDO or DDI. This lack of competition kept prices high and restricted the growth of cellular services in Japan.

A second wave of deregulation began in the early 1990s, with the issuing of two further licences, this time for digital networks operating in the 1500MHz band. The two new operators were the Digital Phone Group (DPG) and Tu-Ka.

In April 1994, the mobile phone market was liberalized, and subscribers were for the first time allowed to buy mobile phones from any supplier. There are now 18 major manufacturers active in the Japanese mobile phone market.

Today, customers in the most populous areas of Japan have up to nine cellular networks to choose from, including the NTT and J- TACS analogue networks, and PDC networks in the 800MHz and 1500MHz bands. During 1996, however, growth in the analogue networks largely stagnated, and in some cases reversed: PDC is now the engine for growth in the Japanese cellular market, and as of August 1996 accounted for nine million subscribers.

Ericsson’s role in Japanese digital standardization

Because of its role in defining the international GSM and D- AMPS (IS-136) specifications for digital cellular networks, Ericsson was asked by NTT and the Japanese Research and Development Centre for Radio Systems (RCR) to participate in the specification of the Japanese standard.

This standard – first known as JDC (Japan Digital Cellular), and later renamed PDC (Personal Digital Cellular) is based on the digital TDMA radio technology already used in GSM and D-AMPS networks. The PDC standard operates on two frequency bands, 800MHz and 1500MHz.

Ericsson’s first major contracts for cellular equipment in Japan were with DPG, starting in 1991. But before then, Ericsson had won an important order from NTT in 1989, for modulation/demodulation equipment – essentially, base stations without amplifiers – for NTT’s 800MHz PDC network, which came into service in March 1993.

Ericsson’s success in Japan

Starting in 1991, Ericsson, through its joint venture with Toshiba, won a series of important cellular network contracts from the Digital Phone Group, for PDC networks operating in the 1500MHz band.

The first order was from Tokyo Digital Phone (TDP), for a system to cover the Tokyo Metropolitan area. In 1992, this was followed by an order from Kansai Digital Phone (KDP) for a network to cover Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto. And in 1993, Ericsson won its third major order, from Central Japan Digital Phone, for a network to cover the Tokai region, including Nagoya.

Even before they became operational, all three of these networks had placed expansion orders with Ericsson. The TDP network opened as scheduled in April 1994: Osaka and Nagoya opened in May and July 1994 respectively – each six weeks ahead of schedule.

In 1994, KDP started commercial service with an Ericsson digital cellular network for the Kansai region nearly two months ahead of schedule.

In mid 1996, Ericsson received an order from TDP to expand its network, in order to handle the very high subscriber growth TDP has experienced during 1995 and early 1996.

In February 1996, the Ericsson CMS 30 system for PDC passed the one million subscriber mark. Ericsson is the main network supplier to six PDC network operators in Japan, and through its joint venture with Toshiba, has around 20 per cent of the PDC network market.

(www.ericsson.com, March 1997)