Japan's NTT DoCoMo in talks to join US net venture
Japan's NTT DoCoMo Inc. is in talks to take part in a US mobile Internet service which could mark the mobile telephone giant's entry into the United States, a report said Thursday, August 17.
DoCoMo is eyeing a minority stake in the planned joint venture between SBC Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp., dominant carriers in the western and southern United States, the Financial Times reported.
DoCoMo declined to say whether it was in talks with the two companies, which could see it adapt its wildly popular
"i-mode" mobile Internet access service for the United States.
"As we have always said, we are looking into a wide range of alliance opportunities," a DoCoMo spokeswoman told AFP.
The joint venture by the two US carriers would introduce mobile Internet services using technology based on i-mode, the newspaper said.
DoCoMo has attracted more than 10 million subscribers since February 1999 for its i-mode service, which allows users to surf the web and download e-mails onto their mobile handsets.
Texas-based SBC Communications operates in some 25 states and has invested in 22 countries, while Atlanta-based BellSouth dominates local call services in nine southern states.
DoCoMo's entry into the US would mark another step in a fledgling overseas expansion drive by the giant Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT) group.
The mobile phone arm, with its new Dutch partner KPN Mobile NV, in July announced a 2.1-billion-pound ($3.2 billion) investment in Hutchison 3G UK Holdings Ltd., which holds one of the coveted licenses for next-generation services in Britain.
Reports last month said the company was in the final stage of talks to provide i-mode technology to leading Internet service provider America Online Inc., as part of a DoCoMo bid to push into the US from Europe.
The latest report comes after a US foreign investment panel this week recommended President Bill Clinton allow NTT Communications Corp. to buy Colorado-based Internet access provider Verio Inc.
Some US lawmakers had expressed doubts about Internet security if the Japanese firm was allowed to take over the biggest web-hosting company in the United States.
There have also been complaints about Japan's sluggish liberalization of its telecoms market while NTT expands abroad.
The United States and Japan reached a last-ditch deal on July 19 allowing foreign competitors much cheaper access to NTT's local networks in Japan, after marathon talks aimed at averting a trade war. — (AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)