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Mitsubishi, Toshiba team up on 3G platform

Posted: 18 Mar 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:3g? platform? mobile phone? umts? wcdma?

Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and Toshiba Corp. have agreed to jointly develop third-generation (3G) mobile phones in an effort to establish a common platform for dual-mode phones with multimedia capabilities. Their alliance follows an earlier tie-up between Matsushita Electric and NEC Corp.

Neither Mitsubishi nor Toshiba is a leading player in mobile phones, but believe that together they can establish a standard that will be followed around the world. "We have an ambition to be the Wintel of the mobile phone market," said Tetsuya Mizoguchi, president of Toshiba Mobile Communications Co.

Though the Japanese market is advanced and competitive, "Japanese vendors rank low in the world mobile phone market," said Nahoko Mitsuyama, an analyst with the Telecommunications Industry Services of Gartner Japan KK. "Japanese vendors thus far could not take advantage of their advanced technologies, because Japanese handsets are mostly based on the PDC [Personal Digital Cellular] format," she said.

Mitsubishi and Toshiba aim to change that. Their platform will utilize the partners' semiconductors, operating systems and applications software to create a dual-mode handset able to support UMTS, W-CDMA, GSM or GPRS communications. They will also draw on in-house video compression, wireless communications, data processing and encryption technologies.

"We have all necessary technologies for 3G," said Toshiba president Tadashi Okamoto.

The companies realize they are entering a competitive field. "Several platforms will be proposed," said Michio Nakanishi, managing director of Mitsubishi Electric and head of the company's communications system group. "We are going to make our platform strong enough to beat these platforms."

The platform will be open to mobile phone vendors worldwide.

The first fruit of the collaboration will be introduced in early 2004, just as the 3G market is taking off, the companies said.

Details haven't been nailed down, but joint work will begin in April with several dozen engineers. The collaboration may develop into joint R&D and production, but the resultant phones will be sold under each company's brand, they said.

Gartner Dataquest ranked Mitsubishi as the world's ninth largest mobile phone maker in a recent report, with about a 3 percent market share. The company has just introduced a terminal for FOMA, NTT Docomo's 3G service. Toshiba, which was not ranked in the Dataquest report's top 10 suppliers, is readying a FOMA terminal for introduction.

Matsushita and NEC ranked sixth and seventh in the Gartner Dataquest report. Like the Mitsubishi-Toshiba alliance, the Matsushita-NEC alliance is developing an open platform. "[Both pairs] are expressing their intention to advance into the world market in earnest," said analyst Mitsuyama. The Matsushita-NEC alliance may have an advantage in the current Japanese market, "but there is no big difference in the technologies they have," she said.

? Yoshiko Hara

EE Times





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