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Docomo to Replace Mobile Phones for 3G Service

In a sign of the steep hurdles facing third-generation (3G) wireless technology, Japan’s top mobile operator NTT DoCoMo (news – web sites) Inc said on Friday it will replace all of its 1,400 3G mobile handsets.

“We are replacing handsets to improve their function, not because of technical problems,” said Takumi Suzuki, a DoCoMo spokesman.

He did not say when the handsets, the N2001 model made by NEC Corp and distributed to users when trial 3G services began in Tokyo’s 23 wards on May 30, would be replaced.

The move, effectively a recall, highlights the difficulty DoCoMo is having with super-fast 3G technology, which allows quick Internet access and video and music downloads.

The 1,400 handsets were distributed at the launch along with 1,900 separate data transmission cards for laptop computers. DoCoMo has promised to deliver a delayed allotment of 1,200 handsets capable of video transmission by the end of June.

Analysts said DoCoMo’s decision had been expected.

“The purpose of the trial service is to improve their handsets,” said Kate Lye, a telecoms analyst at UBS Warburg.

“We (UBS) have one of those handsets here…It needs a lot of improvement. It’s not a great handset. So it’s good that they are making improvements,” Lye added.

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