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DoCoMo deal will overthrow Europe's mobile advantage

NTT DoCoMo's acquisition of a 16 per cent stake in AT&T Wireless will drive the use of iMode in the US and help the country catch up with the European mobile sector.
Written by Lisa Burroughes, Contributor

NTT DoCoMo's acquisition of a 16 per cent stake in AT&T Wireless will drive the use of iMode in the US and help the country catch up with the European mobile sector.

Analysts argue the $9.9bn deal between one of the most powerful players in the market and the third largest mobile company in the US will bolster take up of the Japanese telco's technology iMode in the US, and encourage a frenzy of application development. Europe on the other hand, which has until now enjoyed a lead over the US in the mobile arena, is expected to see slower development. Matt Hanrahan, analyst at Bloor Research, said: "The third generation auction process has crippled development in Europe and so any advantage it has had over the US will end." Eddie Hold, analyst at Current Analysis in the US, agrees. He said: "We have already seen a big catch-up play in the mobile data market - there is not a lot of difference now in application development." More significantly, Hold said the move is likely to send sparks through AT&T's relationship with BT. NTT DoCoMo is already forging ahead with plans to roll out iMode services in Europe through Dutch company KPN and as it does the same with AT&T in the US, Hold said, BT Cellnet "will have to look closely at the competitive impact on its own services" and those developed in agreement with AT&T. The tie up is seen as a good fit by most analysts, as AT&T Wireless runs a packet-based network - the ideal accompaniment for iMode. It also implies that AT&T will adopt the European model of GPRS and UMTS standards rather than EDGE, which is currently favoured by most US telcos.
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