FOMA (Freedom of Mobile multimedia Access) is the name of NTT DoCoMo's 3G mobile service. Introduced in the Tokyo area on November 1st, 2001, it was subsequently expanded to cover the areas surrounding Nagoya and Osaka on December 1st, 2001. DoCoMo plans to have FOMA available at all of Japan's major cities by the spring of 2002.

FOMA uses the W-CDMA standard, of which DoCoMo had a major part in developing. The FOMA service claims to offer sound quality equal to that of normal landlines, and also has a 64 kbps video phone mode. Data transmission has a packet-based max. 384 kbps download/64 kbps upload mode, and a 64 kbps circuit-based mode.

At launch, three terminals were available for FOMA:

The FOMA N2001 is a standard phone with improved iMode capabilities. The FOMA P2101V is a video phone which allows video phone calls to be made, (currently only to other P2101Vs). The FOMA P2401 is a PC card which allows data communications at FOMA speeds.

DoCoMo also plans to introduce several new services to take advantage of FOMA's features.

The iMotion service will allow FOMA phones to stream video and sound from iMode sites, while the M-Stage Visual and M-Stage Music services will expand on their current incarnations to offer shorter download times of music and video and to take advantage of the improved capabilites of new phones. DoCoMo also plans to offer international roaming services as soon as providers in other countries begin to adopt W-CDMA.

DoCoMo is currently alone in the 3G market in Japan, but competitors J-phone and au both plan to introduce their own 3G networks by the end of 2002.


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