NTT DoCoMo launched the worlds first W-CDMA 3G network in October 2001, but from the start, had problems with overheating phones, battery life, phone size, coverage, and most importantly - getting customers. Now, over two years later, and after taking a beating from rival KDDI's 1xRTT offering, FOMA seems to be hitting its stride. Choices of handsets is growing, the content is available, and the kinks seem to be worked out of the system, such that Moody's Investor service boosted the rating for DoCoMo's debt, based largely on the promising prospects of FOMA. With the flies out of the ointment, there is a great opportunity to up-sell the existing 45 million DoCoMo 2G customers to FOMA, where only 1.88M have taken the jump so far. Are we surprised that it took so long for DoCoMo to fix their 3G problems, not really: they jumped the gun by launching before the W-CDMA technology was ready, and were all alone in the 'lead'. Hutchison joined FOMA on the bleeding edge too soon as well, as we predicted here. W-CDMA is just coming into its own this year, and won't hit stride globally until 05-06.
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