NTT DoCoMo regains taste for overseas expansion

Japanese MNO to copy rival Softbank

Rumours are fast circulating that Japanese MNO [Mobile Network Operator] - NTT DoCoMo is contemplating making overseas acquisitions. The trigger is almost certainly the fact that its arch rival in Japan – Softbank is close to taking control of the USA’s third largest MNO, Sprint Nextel. This time DoCoMo will be looking around much closer to home – that is in the Asia Pacific region. The company didn’t have much luck when it decided to invest in European countries over ten years ago. Observers seem to forget that this was an attempt to establish i-mode as a major alternative to WAP.

The Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) lost its trendiness in the early 2000s as a way of avoiding having to run full HTML on a mobile phone’s screen

It hasn’t died. It’s just hidden behind such thinks as online purchases for which it is fine because it is relatively secure.

However, whilst Nokia and Ericsson heavily backed WAP, NTT DoCoMo decided to invest overseas in trying to establish its rival system – i-mode as a global alternative to WAP.

This lead to investments in KPN of the Netherlands, the USA’s AT&T, plus close co-operation with the UK’s BT Cellnet (now O2).

It didn’t succeed but that still hasn’t cause the Japanese MNO to entirely lose interest in Europe.

DoCoMo’s CEO, Kaoro Kato, told the Financial Times [FT], “We will look at other markets [outside Asia Pacific] such as Europe where we have already acquired companies like Germany’s net mobile and Buongioro of Italy.”

This time it isn’t immediately obvious where DoCoMo feels it has a strategic advantage like it had with i-mode.

GoMo News, however, would speculate that it has something to do with 4G/LTE.

See our 101 on i-mode here.

About Tony Dennis

Tony is currently Editor of GoMobile News. He's a veteran telecoms journalist who has previously worked for major printed and online titles. Follow him on Twitter @GoMoTweet.
This article was published in India and Asia Pacific, Japan, NTT DoCoMo, mobile news, sprint nextel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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