Japanese mobile operators NTT DoCoMo and KDDI Corp. (au Corp) yesterday presented their competing plans for delivering a next generation mobile-device broadcasting service to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC). Although existing mobile broadcast service licences allow the airing of digital TV, the next generation concession will enable the winner to broadcast a variety of content, such as movies, sports coverage and electronic books, directly to handsets and PDA-type devices. The launch date for next generation broadcasting could take place as soon as spring 2012 and DoCoMo and KDDI are vying for the rights to the single licence on offer. Both KDDI and DoCoMo have created new companies to develop next generation mobile, and with only two firms likely to submit bids, the telecoms ministry is expected to select a winner in August 2010. The successful company will have to invest an estimated JPY80-JPY100 billion (USD864-USD1,081 million) to build out base stations across the country to deliver the new service.
In yesterday’s meeting both firms played up the merits of their business plans. DoCoMo intends to hold capital expenditure at around JPY43.8 billion as a way to keep customer fees down and encourage a wider take-up of the service. The NTT unit estimates that monthly subscription rates for the new service will be around JPY300. Answering concerns that its curb on CAPEX might jeopardise indoor coverage, DoCoMo said it was confident that strong signal coverage would provide ample customer access. For its part, KDDI has scheduled investment of JPY96.1 billion – double that of its rival – and plans to deploy 865 base stations, about seven times the number planned by DoCoMo. However, KDDI’s ambition is tempered by concerns that it may need to charge higher broadcast fees to content providers, which could prevent it from attracting enough customers. The firm looked to reassure officials by saying ‘If there aren’t enough content providers, KDDI will take on the responsibility of supporting them.’