DoCoMo & Hutchison partner for i-mode deal

MUMBAI: Japan's NTT DoCoMo, Inc. and Hutchison Telecom Hong Kong, have jointly announced a partnership to bring i-mode services to Hong Kong and Macau by the end of the year, thus, extending Hutchison Telecom's outreach in Asia.

The parties also agreed to launch an IC card technology service, often referred to as the wallet-phone in Japan, on i-mode enabled handsets.

According to a release, DoCoMo will provide the technology and marketing expertise to the partnership, enabling Hutchison Telecom Hong Kong to offer i-mode services. Hutchison phone customers would be able to download credit onto their cell phones, swipe and use it whenever required. However, the financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

First introduced in 1999 by NTT DoCoMo, i-mode allows mobile phone users to access the Internet and provide for facilities such as emailing, web surfing, paying bills and shopping.

Stating that the service will be available within a few months, Hutchison Telecom CEO Dennis Lui, added, "We are delighted by this partnership. In addition to providing cutting-edge services for our customers, it consolidates our position as Hong Kong's most forward-looking mobile operator, as we continue to lead innovative developments in the mobile industry and seek to shape the communications market into the future."

NTT DoCoMo senior VP and MD of Multimedia Services, Takeshi Natsuno commented, "We are confident that this strategic partnership will bring multiple synergies for both companies as well as other member operators. We are also proud to announce our common strategy in bringing our wallet-phone experience from Japan to the region. This new partnership will certainly drive further expansion of i-mode in the global arena."

"With its proven business model and unique service platform, i-mode creates an open gateway for content providers. They will be able to immediately tap into the vast potential of one of the largest mobile customer bases in Hong Kong supported by one of the most advanced mobile networks in the world. We will work with content providers to spearhead the next generation of mobile Internet development in Hong Kong," added Lui.

In addition to DoCoMo in Japan, the signing of this agreement, will have licensed 16 i-mode operators in 24 countries around the world. Also, SMART Communications, Inc. is currently preparing to launch the service in the Philippines, adds the release.

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