Ericsson will be the prime supplier of WCDMA radio networks in the metropolitan areas of Japan (Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka) and a complete nationwide core network. eMobile will roll out the network very quickly and plan to launch commercial services in March 2007. UPDATE: March 2007 is only for Data services; Voice services planned for February 2008.
Finally this was made public since about an hour back. I’ve known about it a while, but for obvious reasons I could not say anything about it earlier. I think this is very good news for Ericsson – picking up one of the two main new players in the 3G market in Japan (the other is Softbank, where nothing is clear yet). It will be interesting to follow what strategy eMobile will have for their cell phone services; will they take the low-cost route, or try to compete on interesting new features? Most people seem to think they will be a traditional vendor, and not do anything more revolutionary than lower prices – but we will see.
Some interesting questions that were posed by Japanese media at the press conference; one was, what happened to Lucent? It was announced early 2005 that eMobile were testing Lucent equipment and everyone assumed that they would win the contract, however, now Lucent is nowhere to be seen? In response to this, eMobile said: (translated by me)
First of all, Ericsson is contracted to build an access network in the Osaka, Nagoya, and Tokyo regions. As far as the other regions go, no decision has been taken yet – we are investigating this intensely. We may go with multiple vendors, 2 or 3, or it may end with only one (Ericsson).
Further, regarding the terminals (the actual phones), a question was posed regarding the likelyhood of Sony-Ericsson getting to supply them, now that Ericsson will supply most of the network.
eMobile Chairman and CEO Semmoto said:
We are discussing with domestic and foreign vendors about supply of terminals. We cannot give any names at this moment. Since we have chosen Ericsson to supply the network, it is obvious that Sony-Ericsson would be a good match. That Sony-Ericsson is a candidate for supplying the phones is rather safe to say.
However, President and COO of eMobile Taneno was quick to add that
We have not yet reached that far in our discussions with Sony-Ericsson.