DDI selects W-CDMA for next mobile phones

DDI Corp. will adopt the W-CDMA system being promoted by European telecommunications firms for its new generation of mobile phones, giving up the cdma2000 standard promoted by North American rivals, company officials said Monday.

With DDI’s decision, all three of Japan’s key mobile phone group companies have now chosen W-CDMA, or wide-band code division multiple access, following earlier decisions by NTT DoCoMo Inc., formerly known as NTT Mobile Communications Network Inc., and Japan Telecom Co.

DDI was considering adopting cdma2000 but decided against it because few carriers around the world have embraced the system, limiting its coverage.

The commercial operation of the cdma2000 system “could be delayed until 2005 under the worst-case scenario,” an industry official said.

NTT DoCoMo is eyeing spring 2001 to launch its new generation of mobile phones, while Japan Telecom is looking at fall 2001. DDI is expected to follow suit in 2002 or later.

The new mobile phones will be capable of receiving data at speeds of 64 kilobits to 2 megabits per second, enabling users to view motion pictures and video data.

Together with IDO Corp., the DDI group has been using its eight cellular phone units to promote the cdmaOne format for its existing digital mobile service. Since this format is close to the cdma2000 system, DDI had been thought likely to opt for the North American system.

Since analogue mobile phones are widely used in North America and carriers are unlikely to introduce a new generation of digital phones anytime soon, DDI concluded it could no longer afford to wait for North American carriers to catch up.