Disney to launch mobile phone service in Japan, sources say

US entertainment giant Walt Disney plans to launch mobile phone service in Japan next spring using Softbank Mobile's telecommunications network, sources, quoted by a Kyodo News report, said..

Disney will develop mobile phone handsets with Softbank Mobile and sell them, and accept subscriptions through the Japanese mobile phone operator's nationwide sales network, the sources said.

Disney is expected to offer content involving Disney characters and distribute cartoons to its subscribers, they said.

The Kyodo News also said US entertainment company will become the first mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO, in Japan to offer both voice and data communications service.

Existing MVNOs in Japan offer only wireless data communications service.

Softbank Mobile, a mobile phone business of internet conglomerate Softbank, has decided to lease its mobile communications network to Disney as part of efforts to expand its profit base, the sources said.

Softbank Mobile, which has about 17 million subscribers, has been expanding rapidly due to its popular discount fee plan, but it still has adequate capacity in its network, they said.

Disney provides mobile phone service in the US under an MVNO arrangement, but plans to finish it by the end of this year, according to the sources.