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  • NTT DoCoMo to Offer Banking, Ticketing Via Cellular Phones
  • November 30, 1998 (TOKYO) -- NTT Mobile Communications Network Inc. (NTT DoCoMo) will begin operating new online services designed for cellular phones from around February 1999, a company spokesman said.
    The new services are called "iMode." Through the upcoming services cellular phone customers will be able to access the Internet, make banking transactions and reserve tickets using a cellular phone.

    NTT DoCoMo is Japan's largest cellular phone company.

    The iMode services will have three main menu items; (1) net surfing, (2) email, and (3) online services.

    All customers with NTT DoCoMo cellular phones will be able to use the Internet surfing and email capabilities, and menu pages will be customizable.

    Four types of online services will be offered: transactions, database services, day-to-day lifestyle information and entertainment.

    By utilizing the transaction services, customers will be able to confirm bank balances, deposit and transfer funds into bank accounts through a banking service, obtain information on stocks, place purchase and sell orders for stocks through a trading service, and reserve hotel rooms and buy concert tickets through a reservation service. All of this will be possible via a cellular phone.

    As for the database service, NTT DoCoMo will provide a restaurant search service, information on train transfers and a phone number inquiry service. The day-to-day lifestyle information service will include news, weather forecasts and information on local shops and events. Customers will be able to enjoy fortune-telling and online games among other entertainment items.

    Most iMode services are to be free of charge. However, users will be charged for the volume of data sent and received, not on the basis of time. The services will be provided via packet transmission with a maximum transmission speed of 9.6 kbps.

    The charges are likely to be around 0.2 yen per packet of 128 bytes. Additionally, users will pay a monthly fee of a few hundred yen for the packet transmission service.

    At the time of launching the services, NTT DoCoMo will begin marketing four models of 501iHYPER Series cellular phones equipped with a browser.

    Those cellular phone models, which will weigh about 90 grams, have a large liquid crystal display (LCD) to show at least eight characters on six lines.

    However, the browser won't be fully compatible with HTML, the Internet's standard description language. And it won't support tags that handle tables, pictures and frames.

    The browser will conform to a description language similar to Compact HTML, a subset for HTML developed in Japan by Access Co., Ltd., NEC Corp., Sony Corp., Fujitsu Ltd., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. and Mitsubishi Electric Corp., the spokesman said.

    NTT DoCoMo plans to disclose on its Web site the HTML tags that the browser will support. Also, the company intends to develop its services further by establishing an environment in which anyone can develop content for the cellular phone models.

    (Nikkei Communications)

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    Updated: Fri Nov 27 23:30:57 1998 PDT