Japanese carriers line up to bid on WiMAX license

Japanese mobile carriers NTT DoCoMo, Softbank, and KDDI and their partners filed for licences to supply high speed wireless Internet in Japan worth billions of yen, a Reuters report said.

Along with handy-phone firm Willcom, controlled by the Carlyle Group, the four groups are bidding for two 2.5 GHz band frequencies allowing WiMAX connections, the Reuters report said.

The Reuters report added that DoCoMo and partners like Acca Networks, JPMorgan and South Korean carrier KT, are ready to bet 200 billion yen ($1.71 billion) on infrastructure for the new technology by 2015, if they are granted a license.

Softbank, Japan's smallest mobile phone operator, and ADSL provider eAccess, say they expect capital spending of about 250 billion yen ($2.1 billion) by the same year, the report said.

Softbank and eAccess have enlisted support from Goldman Sachs, which would take a 22.4% stake in the venture, and Temasek Holdings, which would take 11.7%, the report said.

Investment in WiMAX would help network device makers and chip makers like Intel, which has been working on the technology, it added.

Intel's venture capital firm Intel Capital has thrown its weight behind Japan's No. 2 carrier KDDI, which has also secured commitments from handset and components maker Kyocera and East Japan Railway .

Other investors are Daiwa Securities Group and Mitsubishi UFJ.

But in Japan's saturated market, where many users have already switched to advanced 3.5G phones, WiMAX could be a hard sell, analysts, quoted by the Reuters report, say.

It also faces competition from upcoming Super 3G standard, a technology under development by none other than DoCoMo.

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