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The telecommunications minister hinted Tuesday that Okinawa Cellular Telephone Co. may remain free from regulations governing “dominant” mobile phone operators even though its controls a large share of the market in Okinawa Prefecture.

“We will consider whether we must define service areas by prefecture and whether (a review of service areas) is legally possible,” Toranosuke Katayama told a news conference.

Katayama, minister of public management, home affairs, posts and telecommunications, was speaking about a revision of the telecommunications law implemented in November. Under the law, a mobile phone operator with a market share of 25 percent or more is defined as being dominant and is subject to business restrictions.

Okinawa Cellular operates only in Okinawa Prefecture and has a 49 percent share.

The ministry is considering whether to classify Okinawa Cellular and nine NTT DoCoMo companies as dominant operators.

Katayama noted that while Okinawa Cellular has a 49 percent share in the Okinawa mobile phone market, “Its share nationwide is very small.”

A spokesman for Okinawa Cellular told Kyodo News that the company’s nationwide share is 0.5 percent and that it hopes the ministry will not define it as a dominant company.

“We are worried about not being allowed to continue our discount services,” the spokesman said.

The firm, part of the KDDI Corp. group, is concerned it will not be able to continue using KDDI’s Myline telephone service to offer discount services, he said.

DoCoMo’s 4G dreams

NTT DoCoMo Inc. has started manufacturing an experimental device for a fourth-generation mobile communications system.

NTT DoCoMo said Monday that it is planning to launch cellular phone handsets for the 4G service, which would succeed the company’s third-generation FOMA service, around 2010.

The system would enable data transmission of up to 100 megabits per second, much faster than FOMA’s top data transmission speed of 384 kilobits per second.

The 4G system promises transmission of moving images at the same quality as high-definition television broadcasting, company officials said.

The firm plans to launch connection and other experiments after producing the trial device around summer.

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