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New Japanese Mobile Phone Service - 2001-10-05


Japan's top mobile phone operator has launched its much-awaited third-generation service and the nation's airlines are cutting U.S. bound flights.

Japanese mobile phone giant NTT DoCoMo has launched its third generation cell phones. They are the world's first commercially available handsets that allow customers to surf the Internet at high speeds. They also let users see each other on small screens while they talk. Eventually, the cell phones will also be able to play movies and music.

NTT DoCoMo is hoping to attract 150,000 customers with the service within six months. The so-called 3-G technology has boosted the firm's share price.

Tim Clark, strategy director for e-business consultancy Ion Global Japan, says, "they (NTT DoCoMo) are pressing ahead in spite of the very difficult market environment, in spite of the slowdown of the Japanese market and in spite of the problems they have had. I think it is a very bold move and you really have to give them credit for forging ahead in this pioneering area."

The country's two biggest airlines, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, say they will cut up to 20 percent of their flights to the United States. The move follows the September 11 commercial airline hijackings used in terrorist acts in the United States. Since then, there has been a significant decline in passengers going to the country. Instead, the two airline companies are increasing Asia-bound flights.

The Japanese government has also pledged $2 billion in guarantees to help the country's carriers handle skyrocketing insurance costs, a trend in line with many other countries in the wake of the terrorist assaults.

One American fast food giant is reaping greater profits in Japan than it did last year. The Japanese unit of McDonald's says its September sales rose by eight percent from the same period a year ago. The improvement comes after McDonald's dramatically cut the price of its weekday meals.