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France will follow Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium to become the fourth European country to get I-mode, the mobile Internet service that has attracted over 35 million subscribers in Japan on NTT DoCoMo's network since its launch in early 1999. Outside Japan, I-mode is also available in Taiwan.
In April Bouygues purchased a 10-year licence from Tokyo-based NTT DoCoMo to offer I-mode in France and French overseas territories. At the time, NTT DoCoMo said the French launch would take place within 12 months.
I-mode, offered on a mobile phone with a large colour screen and an I-mode compatible HTML browser, provides free as well as subscription-based information services. The NEC N21i handset is the only I-mode handset currently available in Europe.
A French I-mode subscription will cost €3 (£1.92) per month, plus €0.01 per kilobyte of data transferred. At launch time, about 50 providers will offer French language content in nine categories, such as news, travel, and games. Some sites will be free, while others will cost up to €3 per month, NTT DoCoMo said.