NTT DoCoMo Inc. plans to let i-mode customers dial up Internet service providers other than NTT by spring 2003, company sources said Thursday.

Subscribers to i-mode do not have a choice of ISPs when using i-mode because the entire system is controlled by NTT DoCoMo.

The mobile phone unit of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. plans to invest up to 50 billion yen over the next two years to remodel its i-mode access facilities to accommodate connections from other Internet access services, including Nifty and Biglobe.

The number of i-mode subscribers topped 20 million earlier this month, only two years after the service started.

NTT DoCoMo, however, has been under fire for monopolizing i-mode connections as part of the NTT group.

At a news conference Thursday, NTT DoCoMo President Keiji Tachikawa voiced strong opposition to the government’s plan to increase its control over the mobile phone giant and urged it to abandon the plan.

The government wants to loosen NTT DoCoMo’s grip on the Japanese mobile phone market by changing the Telecommunications Business Law to make the market more competitive.

Tachikawa criticized the idea of tightening control over a firm simply because it has a large market share. The idea of “dominant carriers,” or the creation of a category that would place some operators under tighter control, is nonsense, he said.

Referring to his company’s third-generation mobile phone services, NTT DoCoMo’s president said the so-called 3G services will begin in May as scheduled.

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