Japan's top mobile phone service provider launched its bid to take a piece of the Taiwan market yesterday, buying a stake in Taiwan's KG Telecom (
A Chinese-language newspaper said that Koo Chung-liang (辜仲諒) confirmed NTT DoCoMo would pay US$9.6 billion for a 20 percent stake in the Koo's Group mobile phone carrier, KG Telecom. Koo Chung-liang holds posts at two companies within the family conglomerate, serving as vice chairman of Gigamedia (和信超媒體) and president of China Trust (中國信託).
"This is definitely a positive development for KG Telecom," said Thomas Hutchison, telecommunications industry analyst for Nomura International.
"Now they have a credible [foreign] partner."
KG Telecom is the last of Taiwan's private mobile service providers to form a partnership with a major foreign company. Analysts expect the coming battle for 3G mobile-Internet licenses in Taiwan to require sizeable resources and strong technical expertise. NTT DoCoMo can deliver both.
The Japanese mobile phone service provider has grown so fast in its home market, it has surpassed most analyst expectations. A Goldman Sachs report issued earlier this year forecast that by March 2002, DoCoMo mobile Internet telecom customers could number more than 10 million.
As of this month, the company has already pushed that figure to 14.9 million.
Analysts credit the company's rapid growth with fast mobile Internet download speeds and attractive services. NTT DoCoMo developed its own version of HTML to adapt Internet content to its phones early in the mobile Internet game, also launching mobile Internet in "packets" to bring up signal speeds and enable the kinds of services people seek. These services include everything from mobile banking and stock transactions to the downloading of cartoon images and cell phone-ring tones.
NTT DoCoMo charges NT$30 (US$1) per cartoon download and rakes in over US$3.8 million a month for the service.
While Taiwan's mobile phone service providers stumbled on the Internet service -- drawing only an estimated 40,000 customers to a limited range of WAP services -- DoCoMo won big.
The company has quickly become Japan's largest Internet service provider, with over 245 mobile Internet partners and 2,000 "unofficial" compatible Web sites.
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