back to article Japan turns its back on 2G

Japanese customers didn’t buy a single 2G handset during January, which could be why Japanese network operator NTT DoCoMo has decided to stop providing sub-3G connectivity by 2012. Although just over 4m mobile phones were shipped to Japanese stores during the first month of the year, the Japan Electronics and Information …


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  1. Repo
    Paris Hilton

    Freudian slip James?

    " Nokia’s already embracing telly on the go. Its upcoming flagship 16GB N69 handset includes a DVB-H tuner. "

  2. Frank Bough


    how are the poor Japanese going to use their phones inside buildings once GSM is abandoned?

  3. Andrew Ducker

    Not enough coverage.

    There's just not the coverage in the UK for 3G yet. Vodafone only cover about 80% of the population, and nobody has as much of the UK for 3G as they do for 2G...

  4. Michael Sheils
    Paris Hilton


    Does that come bundled with access to more 'specialist' channels?

    Paris because she is such a star.

  5. paul

    No thanks

    No thanks.

    Having broken an expensive flashy all gimzos blazing mobile phone and swapping it for a £20 job that 'just makes calls'

    If I lose it or break it - Im not that bothered. And the battery life is so so so much better. Sometimes I get 5 days without a charge. No 3G , no bluetooth , mono screen and big battery. Its not a brick phone, its same size and looks similar to others. Cue ronseal.

    Tux , cause thats whats powering my next phone.

  6. David

    Japan uses totally different 2G technology

    It's worth noting that Japan doesn't and never has used GSM. They had a uniquely Japanese 2G technology called PDC. This is a TDMA based technology.

    It's arguably a poor relation of GSM in many ways as it has various reception problems due to its use of quite low powered signals (this was to allow smaller, lighter handsets) and is completely incapable of roaming outside Japan. It also does not have any 2.5G data service like EDGE.

    Japan launched FOMA in 2001 which is an entirely 3G network based on UMTS. This is fully compatible with '3GSM' i.e. 3G UMTS services used in Europe and other GSM countries.

    FOMA phones use a USIM, same as 3G phones in Europe which has also given Japanese phone users seamless roaming on 2G GSM when they're abroad. This is a HUGE step forward for business users.

    UMTS maintained all of the nice features of GSM i.e. the roaming, the modularity, the SIM cards, SMS messaging, picture messaging and open universal standards. The Japanese came on board when UMTS i.e. FOMA/3GSM was being developed.

    Also, 3G handsets in Europe are fully backwards compatible with 2G GSM networks, so we have not had any need for "force" people to move over to 3G.

    In Japan, the move from 2G to 3G was much less smooth. You could compare it to the move from Analogue to Digital in Europe.

    People basically had to move as the 2G system wasn't quite up to it and the network operators were no longer developing it.

    We sometimes forget GSM (when properly rolled out i.e. not the way it is in much of the US!) is a fantastic, rock solid system that provides excellent sound quality and reception.

    So, perhaps 3G/UMTS is less unattractive to Japanese subscribers.

  7. Danny Thompson

    @ Ermmm...

    "how are the poor Japanese going to use their phones inside buildings once GSM is abandoned?"

    Another of the great unwashed speaks the usual drivel about 3G. It is perfectly clear that 3G works just fine inside buildings and there is no need for 2G/GSM at all these days. I have yet to have a 3G handset switch to 2G within a building or not allow me to make a call.

    Yes, 3G phones consume greater amounts of power - hasn't anyone heard of re-charging. The purist attitude that demands a standby time of 3 years with a talk time of at least six weeks is ludicrous. Get real people, 3G is here to stay, it will in time replace 2G in its entirety, stop howling at the moon, it isn't going away.

    With the Japanese fully embracing 3G I think we can expect an accelerated growth of the number of 3G products, both handsets and embedded devices. How the networks will cater for that in contract terms is not clear yet. But they will have to do something. Already we have people with more than one mobile handset (for that read contract too ...) and of late a third contract is being raised in terms of mobile data, now that is becoming more affordable. It is getting to the time for there to come into being a single mobile contract but with multiple devices added and removed at will. The mobile network operators need to develop new ways of increasing their ARPU - and they won't do it by pricing their wares at premium levels. They have to commoditise their entire product ranges. I suspect this latest development of the Japanese market will be the first stone chucked into the pond.

    Smiley - because at last the signs are good that we'll become unwired, finally.

  8. Richard Lea


    Does that mean the Iphone is not selling in Japan?

  9. UK
    Thumb Up


    You europeans are not aware that Japan also uses superior EVDO Rev A 3G technology which provides faster downloads and superior voice qualidy.

    GSM is the worst technology when it comes to voice clarity and data speed. You are probably too proud of your european background to acknowledge that.

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