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KDDI Corp. launched a third-generation high-speed data transmission service Monday for its au mobile phone service, moving to compete with a similar service offered by rival NTT DoCoMo Inc.

The new CDMA2000 1x service, to be available across Japan, moves data at 144 kilobits per second via the Internet, making it easy for users to send and receive video transmissions. The au service previously only handled data at 64 Kbps.

The nation’s second-largest telecommunications operator will also launch five new handset models, one of which features a built-in miniature camera.

KDDI aims to ship 7 million handsets for the CDMA2000 1x by the end of March 2003, according to KDDI President Tadashi Onodera.

The handsets are priced around the 20,000 yen level — about half the price of NTT DoCoMo’s FOMA handsets.

The service will initially be available in 33 prefectures as well as 477 municipalities throughout the country, increasing to 90 percent of all populated areas by the end of the year, KDDI officials said.

CDMA2000 1x is already available in six other countries, including the United States and South Korea, under the management of 11 operators, KDDI said, adding another 29 operators plan to launch it in 12 more countries, including China, Australia and New Zealand.

NTT DoCoMo launched its FOMA 3G wireless service in October, and J-Phone Communications Co., a unit of Britain’s Vodafone Group PLC, will launch a 3G service in June.

TTNet to sell PHS unit

Tokyo Telecommunication Network Co. has reached a basic agreement to sell its personal handy-phone system business to Yozan Inc. by the end of June, the firms said Monday.

TTNet, an affiliate of Tokyo Electric Power Co., plans to sell the loss-making ASTEL PHS service business to the information technology-related venture to rebuild operations.

Yozan, which purchased a pager service unit from Japan Telecom Co. in December, will purchase TTNet’s PHS unit in line with efforts to expand its telecommunications business.

TTNet expects its PHS division to post revenues of 15.17 billion yen for the 2001 business year, which ended Sunday.

TTNet had 288,200 subscribers to its PHS service as of the end of February. All will still be able to use the service after the division is sold to Yozan.

The two companies said they will formally announce the deal Tuesday.

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