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Home > Tech Reiews > Tech Report Last Updated: 15:26 03/09/2007
Tech Report #80: December 22, 2006

3G Mobile Phones in Japan


  • Nearly 75% of the Japanese public uses a mobile phone. Three companies currently dominate the mobile phone market in Japan: NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, and Vodafone.
  • Third-generation (3G) mobile phone applications are currently available and in use in Japan.
  • In addition to the standard voice calling, ring-tones, music, television (TV) downloads, and camera functions, 3G applications include GPS and directions to destinations, location of family members, interactive TV, stock and electronic money transactions, functions that previously required integrated chip (IC) cards, and telemedicine.
  • Location-based services are an important element of new applications, including the capability of mobile phones to find nearby restaurants, shops, stations, hotels, etc. GPS equipped mobile phones can precisely indicate the position of wandering elderly persons or small lost children.
  • Electronic money and ticket applications are expected to grow very rapidly. Existing applications include credit-card functions, vending machine access, in-out management of offices, gate access to rail/subway lines, etc.
  • TV programs can be watched and downloaded, and some interaction is permitted.
  • Telemedicine is also expected to be an important application. A number of systems are being deployed that use mobile phones to transfer vital signs such as electrocardiogram (ECG) and heart rate readings, using new types of sensors. It is likely that wearable sensors will evolve with increased comfort, wearability, and washability, ultimately taking the form of an "e-textile" cloth.


There are not as many mobile phone subscribers in Japan as there are, for example, in China. Nevertheless, Japan leads in the rollout of innovative services and is significantly ahead of the US. The world is moving toward a more ubiquitous and pervasive computing environment, where mobility is a key component. Various applications, developed entirely for the commercial and consumer sector, have significant overlap with security and defense needs. Thus, research, government, and commercial organizations that are planning future directions must aggressively stay abreast of Japanese developments in this field.

(This is the "Executive Summary" portion of the captioned report. Please refer to ATIP for the full text.)

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