Japan is setting up a new network for mobile phones that will allow people to connect to the internet for cheaper and quicker phone calls.
The government planned to introduce mobile Voice over Internet telephony by 2007, officials said on Thursday.
The mobile service under consideration at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications will allow people to use Voice-over-Internet Protocol, or VoIP, phone service, on mobile phones – similar to what is now available on fixed lines.
The mobile VoIP services now more common allow people merely to connect their cell phones to the net at “hot spots” using Wi-Fi wireless access.
The proposal for the network, which will also transmit large amounts of data such as streaming video on mobiles, was being discussed by a ministry panel of experts and telecommunications officials and a decision would be reached in in December, ministry official Junko Koizumi said.
Although details, including the kind of mobile VoIP technology, are not yet decided, several carriers are expected to apply for licences to offer mobile VoIP services, which were likely to be cheaper than talking on mobiles today, she said.
The IP mobile phones are expected to relay information at up to 15 megabits per second – more than a thousand times faster than the fastest third-generation mobile phones now available in Japan which send data at 384 kilobits per second.
The speeds may drop if too many people used the service in the same area, and voice quality may deteriorate, Ms Koizumi said.