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DoCoMo unveils 3G handset prototypes

(IDG) -- NTT DoCoMo Inc. used the CeBIT trade show this week to give the world a glimpse at what the first handsets for 3G (third generation) mobile services are likely to look like.

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The company, which plans to launch the world's first 3G cellular service based on W-CDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) in Tokyo at the end of May, showed for the first time non-working models of terminals from NEC Corp., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. and Toshiba Corp.

Although not identical to the launch handsets, those on show this week were very close, said a DoCoMo spokesman. The terminals look largely similar to the latest models the company has on the market for its second-generation network and contrast with the futuristic handset image models that DoCoMo and the handset makers have been showing in the past, and which are not likely to be on the market for years.

The fact that the company was unable to show working prototypes of the handsets illustrates the tight timeframe that handset makers are working to in order to be ready for DoCoMo's launch. In fact, only Matsushita and NEC will be ready in time for the launch: the companies plan to put two handsets each on the market. DoCoMo has contracted ten manufacturers to make handsets, but other companies won't be rolling them out until later this year or next year, company officials recently confirmed.

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NTT DoCoMo Inc.

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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