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Trade groups representing mobile communications providers and cell phone makers have informed the government they plan to develop common specifications for cell phone jacks and battery charger plugs around 2010, when fourth-generation handsets are expected to become commonplace, ministry officials said Tuesday.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is likely to endorse the push for standardization, the officials said.

Common standards would allow cell phone customers to save money by using their old chargers with handsets from different service providers, they said.

It would also allow family members using cell phones from different providers to share a single charger.

At present, most chargers made for use with NTT DoCoMo Inc., KDDI Corp. and Vodafone K.K. are incompatible.

The Telecommunications Carriers Association and the Communications and Information Network Association of Japan have proposed requiring providers and affiliated makers to use common specifications for fourth-generation phones, the officials said.

The two bodies want to develop common specifications by about 2010, when users are expected to replace older cell phone models with fourth-generation phones.

But the METI officials warned it will still be necessary to develop common international specifications because common standards among Japanese makers, if different from those overseas, could be seen as a trade barrier against overseas handset makers.

Common specifications for cell phone jacks and charger plugs are in place in South Korea, but Europe and the United States still have multiple standards, they added.

There were 92.86 million mobile communications contracts in force in Japan as of June 30, with NTT DoCoMo holding a 55.6 percent share, followed by KDDI with 27.9 percent and Vodafone with 16.4 percent.

Common specifications already exist for jacks and charger plugs used with DoCoMo and KDDI 3G handsets.

Phone shipments up

Domestic shipments of cell phones, including car phones, rose 16.0 percent in May from the previous year to 3.84 million units, marking the ninth-straight monthly rise, an industry group said Tuesday.

The Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association attributed the rise to the launch of new models, including phones that play music and a handset that can receive One Seg, a new digital terrestrial broadcasting service.

Strong demand for third-generation phones continued in May, with shipments jumping 53.6 percent to 3.18 million units, accounting for more than 85 percent of all cell phone shipments for the month.

The volume of 3G phones shipped surpassed 3 million and the share of total shipments was above 85 percent for the fourth straight month.

With many consumers switching to 3G, shipments of second-generation phones with only Internet and e-mail functions dropped 41.3 percent to 562,000 units.

Shipments of personal handy-phones, which are stripped-down mobile phones with relatively low charges, rose 11.8 percent to 101,000 units.

PHS phones have been popular since the successful launch of new services in February, the association said.

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