DoCoMo To Offer Global Roaming 3G Phones

There are isolated islands of wireless in the world, where roaming is almost impossible. The USA and Brazil were formerly on the list, having just CDMA, but have since deployed GSM networks that visiting roamers can use – although there’s still the frequency mess to get past! Anyway, the real islands have always been South Korea and Japan, where idiosyncratic frequencies and technologies have made it all but impossible for the traveler to turn on their foreign phone and get connected. Aware of the benefits of international roaming for it’s customers and for it’s revenues, DoCoMo plans to both upgrade their FOMA network to global standard W-CDMA in a few years, and to offer a phone that can roam off the island, while still accessing 3G data and voice service. That’s good news for Japanese travelers with the new phone, but offers little for geigin trying to chat while in Japan, since the FOMA network still isn’t 3GPP compatible. Meanwhile, there is some confusion in the linked article regarding how the phone will enable roaming: the article seems to assume that DoCoMo operates a W-CDMA network, however, since this is not the case, it must be the phone that can jump between FOMA and W-CDMA. The two technologies are quite similar, since FOMA is just a “pre-standard” implementation of W-CDMA.

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