The Japanese government has revealed that it will licence one or two new companies to enter the wireless market in 2006. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) said it will release a 1.7GHz frequency band, including a 15MHz bandwidth for nationwide mobile services, of which 5MHz will be allocated to each of two new market entrants; the remaining 5MHz will be distributed to mobile phone service providers in accordance with growth in their number of customers. The MIC said it also plans to release a 2.0GHz frequency band for one new entrant.
The process is expected to begin later this year, with ISPs Softbank Corp and eAccess having already announced that they will be submitting applications. The MIC said it will be considering how much money the applicants can invest in the industry and how many customers they can expect to attract. The country hopes the move will stir fiercer competition in the sector, which is currently dominated by NTT DoCoMo, KDDI’s au Corp and Vodafone KK.
In a separate story, KDDI’s au Corp has revealed plans to follow in the footsteps of its rival NTT DoCoMo and launch credit-card payment facilities on its handsets. The operator said it expected to launch the service next year, and is currently in talks with several credit card companies.