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DoCoMo, AOL in "anywhere email" tie-up

The new service, AOLi, will let I-mode users access AOL email from both mobile phones and PCs
The service will let I-mode users access AOL email from both mobiles and PCs  

TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- Japanese mobile telco NTT DoCoMo is to link its I-mode mobile data service with the fixed line operation of its joint venture DoCoMo AOL.

The new service, AOLi, will give I-mode's 23 million subscribers access to AOL's email service as well as an AOL screen name.

The pact marks DoCoMo's first step in leveraging a majority stake in the Japanese operations of the U.S. online service provider.

Starting June 1, AOLi will offer I-mode users their own AOL screen name, allowing them to link seamlessly to the AOL email service via mobile handsets or a PC.

I-mode users will be able to access the AOLi service at for a trial period of three months, after which they will have to become AOL members to get access to their AOL accounts.

Boost for AOL in Japan

"This is the first time we are seeing something come out of this tie-up and AOL can only win from it," West LB's Tokyo-based Internet analyst Ortwin Gierhake told CNN.

"AOL is a major player in the rest of the world, but has been going totally nowhere in Japan, losing out to domestic ISPs. Suddenly, their fortunes have reversed."

Both NTT DoCoMo and DoCoMo AOL plan to offer additional Internet services that span both fixed-line and wireless platforms.

"Hopefully the next announcement won't take more than six months," said Gierhake.

AOL Time Warner is CNN's parent company.

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0227 HKT, 10/29

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