Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo has pulled out of next week’s CTIA Wireless event in the US as it scrambles to restore services in almost a dozen regions.
The firm says it is vital it focuses all attention on getting mobile services on line to aid search and rescue efforts following the earthquake and tsunami last week, after huge chunks of its network was knocked out.
Nearly 2,500 base stations were knocked out in the disaster, affecting services in six prefectures of the Tohoku region and five in the Kanto region. Heavy traffic on its FOMA 3G network was also causing problems, with users struggling to connect calls, particularly in the Tohoku region.
Rival KDDI’s problems center on the same regions, with its mobile, Internet and fixed voice networks experiencing outages or heavy congestion. SoftBank Mobile reported similar problems earlier this week.
All three carriers have scrambled mobile base stations and generators, while DoCoMo and KDDI state it is too soon to assess the financial impact of the disaster.
The pair has also equipped search teams with satellite phones, as the technology becomes a key aid in the rescue effort. The ITU has deployed almost 130 devices from Thuraya, Iridium and Inmarsat to rescue crews, and has another 30 units on standby. UK firm Sepura has also dispatched TETRA handsets to Japan that can operate without infrastructure using Direct Mode.