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Japan Telecom delays 3G launch

The company is delaying the launch of its third-generation wireless network, making it the third carrier to do so.

Japan Telecom is delaying the launch of its third-generation wireless network, making it the third carrier to do so.

So-called 3G service, the name for next-generation wireless technology that offers faster speeds, won't be launched until sometime between July and October of 2002. The company had expected to begin service to its Japanese customers by the end of this year.

Japan Telecom President Haruo Murakami told reporters in Japan that the delay allowed the company to continue trials of the service and to adjust for an unspecified change to an international standard. He also said the company is reviewing how much it plans to spend to launch the next-generation services.

With its announcement, Japan Telecom is now the third carrier to either hint at, or announce, delays in launching the 3G services.

Other companies that have announced delays include Telecom Italia, which said it now plans a 2004 launch--about two years later than expected. And South Korea Telecom, Korea's largest telecom provider, recently said it wouldn't start to invest in 3G infrastructures until at least 2003, which is later than analysts expected.

But some analysts believe delays may mean consumers are better off, despite jitters in a carrier community eager to start earning back the hundreds of billions of dollars spent so far to create high-speed, third-generation networks.

"Japan Telecom wants to ensure that when they finally do launch their 3G services, that it is indeed a smooth experience for their users," said Nina Young, a Jupiter Research analyst.

Japan Telecom's rival is powerhouse NTT DoCoMo, which has an estimated 20 million customers. DoCoMo continues to believe it will introduce customers to a third-generation service in May, although it still has yet to announce a date.

Perhaps it's NTT DoCoMo's turn to announce a delay, Young suggests.

"The more time they delay the launch of their services, DoCoMo has that much more of a jump on them," she said. "I wouldn't be surprised if they announce something as well."