DoCoMo unveils PHS videophone and 3G PDA phone

NTT DoCoMo is to release a mobile videophone for its second-generation PHS (Personal Handyphone System) network. This handset...

NTT DoCoMo is to release a mobile videophone for its second-generation PHS (Personal Handyphone System) network. This handset will allow PHS users to videoconference with users of Foma, its third-generation network.

The PHS network, developed in Japan, is a low-power, mobile communication technology offering data rates up to 64Kbps (bits per second), fast enough to send video data.

Although the number of PHS subscribers has been declining for the past five years, by the end of last month there were still 5.7 million users, according to the Telecommunications Carriers Association (TCA), a Japanese trade body.

The Lookwalk P751v from Matsushita Electric is a browser phone equipped with a 1.1 million-pixel video camera and a 5.5mm TFT (thin film transistor) colour LCD.

The device, which goes on sale next week, allows videoconferences with other P751v users or with Foma videophone users.

The P751v can also send and receive e-mail with attached moving image files, and receive M-stage Visual, a streaming video service at 64Kbps.

At present these services are available only through NTT DoCoMo's Eggy, a mobile terminal with a slot for a PHS wireless card. M-stage Visual is expected to be available for some Foma phones in the future.

The company hoped that the P751v would trigger the growth of Foma subscriptions. NTT DoCoMo originally aimed for 150,000 subscribers in the six months between Foma's launch and the end of March, but had only reached 114,500 subscribers by the end of June.

NTT DoCoMo will also release a phone-PDA (personal digital assistant), the SH2101V, for its Foma network next week. The company said it would be the first Foma phone supporting the M-stage Visual streaming video service.

The SH2101V, by Sharp, comes with a clam shell-style main terminal with a 9mm by 5.5mm TFT colour LCD and keyboard, and a wireless handset that can be connected to the main terminal using Bluetooth wireless technology.

The handset measures 24mm by 137mm by 14mm and weighs 43g. It allows voice communication while the main terminal is closed. Using this wireless handset, users can take part in a videoconference while looking at the separate display, the company said.

NTT DoCoMo could not disclose the suggested retail prices for either device.

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