Picture This

By Benjamin Fulford and Quentin Hardy | 2001/10/29 | 194 words, 0 images

Japan's new cell phone is a marvel. So are the cost, short battery life and long manual.

The beaten-up telecommunications sector has grand hopes for revival from a massive, worldwide upgrade to "third generation" wireless over the next decade. (The first two generations were analog and then digital phones.) 3G delivers such torrents of bits through the air that phones could be used for casual Web surfing or even watching movie clips.

That's the idea. But no one knows if that's what consumers want. Though Japan's NTT DoCoMo recently premiered a 3G phone that can send and receive video, it has some drawbacks: Handsets cost $500, batteries last one-quarter as long as those of normal phones and the user's guide runs to 500 pages.

Uh-oh. European phone companies last year paid $100 billion for 3G spectrum, and will have to pay another $100 billion for equipment, excluding the cost of the handsets. U.S. equipment companies like Qualcomm (see story, p. 76) have high hopes for 3G, too.

DoCoMo, which is spending $8 billion for its national network, says the phones are selling faster than expected to the gadget-happy Japanese.