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DoCoMo Jumps into Mobile Video-Conferencing

Tokyo-based mobile communications firm NTT DoCoMo has announced plans to develop a 3G platform that would allow multi-user wireless video conferencing on cellphones and some fixed-line video phones.

DoCoMo, the wireless spinoff of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT), said the new mobile video-conferencing platform would work with P2101V and D2101V FOMA video phones equipped for the 3G-324M protocol.

It would also work with the IMT-2000 standard for audio-video mobile communications.

"If the video conference involves four people or less, the phone's video screen splits into four windows to show each person simultaneously. The user can optionally switch to a full-screen display of each person as they speak," DoCoMo said.

The company said a field trial of the new platform would begin in May this year. It plans to launch a full-scale commercial version of the platform in the future.

DoCoMo, which starte d trading its ADS shares on the New York Stock Exchange earlier this month, also announced it would launch a wireless LAN trial service based on the IEEE802.11b standard.

The company is looking for approximately 1,000 monitors to participate in the trial, which is slated to be held from April 15 to June 30 this year.

The IEEE802.11b standard, issued by the U.S. Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), allows the use of 2.4GHz frequency band to realize transmission speeds of up to 11Mbps. "To participate in the trial, monitors will need a laptop PC, PDA, or wireless LAN card that adopt WiFi, a certified standard compatible to IEEE802.11b," DoCoMo said.

The company, which operates the popular i-mode wireless service in Japan and Europe, said the development of the LAN service is part of plans to broaden the variety of services it provides.

In partnership with AT&T Wireless , where it has a 16 percent stake, DoCoMo is working on the development of a 3G mobile communications service.

As part of the wireless LAN trial service, users will be requested to access various Internet and online sites, including location resources, and try out live video streaming applications. DoCoMo said it would analyze the various data generated from the trial to determine service marketability.

The wireless LAN system will be implemented in 8 locations throughout Tokyo and its vicinity.