While the fight by Softbank took quite some time, they (and others) finally convinced the Japanese government to let them offer mobile phone service in Japan. It was pretty much a foregone conclusion this summer, but the government is about to make it official that Softbank, eAccess and IP Mobile can all launch mobile phone service starting next year. Considering the current market, dominated by NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, this could definitely shake things up a bit. There's been plenty of talk about how the market is saturated already, and Vodafone KK has been in constant struggle mode. However, at least in the case of Softbank, they know how to do fairly innovative deals and promotions, which is what allowed them to dominate the DSL market in Japan. No matter what, it should make things interesting for a while. Think of Softbank as one of these creative MVNOs we keep hearing about, but which owns its own network.Derek adds: Bear in mind that these three new operators aren't confined to standard cellular voice technologies. IPMobile, whom I spoke with today, stated their desire to use UMTS TDD mobile broadband technology for their network, to be installed in thousands of cell sites. This network could offer broadband to laptops and PDAs, but also VoIP to mobile handsets.
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