KDDI To Launch MVNO In The U.S.KDDI To Launch MVNO In The U.S.
Japanese wireless carrier KDDI is preparing to launch a US-based mobile phone service. KDDI's new service will be an <a href="http://www.techweb.com/encyclopedia/defineterm.jhtml?term=MVNO&x=0&y=0">MVNO</a> that resells wireless access using Sprint's network. Does this mean that KDDI wants to compete with American carriers?
April 9, 2007
Japanese wireless carrier KDDI is preparing to launch a US-based mobile phone service. KDDI's new service will be an MVNO that resells wireless access using Sprint's network. Does this mean that KDDI wants to compete with American carriers?KDDI has obtained licenses to operate as an MVNO in 49 out of 50 states (sorry, no service in Alaska). KDDI plans to launch its American service at the end of April and it will use handsets made by Sanyo and LG. The service will be targeted mostly at KDDI's Japanese subscribers traveling abroad in the U.S.
This isn't the first time a Japanese carrier has partnered with an American telecom. Japan's largest wireless service provider, NTT DoCoMo, was a partner with the old AT&T wireless in the early 2000s. In fact, DoCoMo invested a significant amount of money in the old AT&T Wireless in a bid to gain traction in the U.S. market. The two carriers tried to make DoCoMo's mobile Internet service, i-mode, a success in the U.S. (the American version was called Mmode). The U.S. version of i-mode never really achieved hit status with American users. KDDI's new MVNO, on the other hand, isn't the same as DoCoMo's massive investment in the U.S. market from a few years. This looks more like a play by KDDI to add value to its premium subscribers (i.e. business travelers and tourists) by giving them wireless service in the U.S. Based on the announcement, KDDI does not look like it wants to enter the North American market as a local service provider.
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