Japan Communications Inc will start its data communication service "Doccica" with a fee of ¥10 (approx US$0.1) per minute on March 23, 2009.
This data communication service uses NTT DoCoMo Inc's third-generation (3G) mobile communication network "Foma" and public wireless LAN access points. Subscribers can use the service based on how much they pay in advance.
"Charges in units such as packets and Mbytes are difficult for users to understand," said Seiji Sanda, CEO of Japan Communications. "With flat rates, on the other hand, users must pay a fixed monthly fee even if they hardly use the service during the month. Doccica uses a new payment system that can solve such issues."
This service can be used by purchasing a USB device manufactured by ZTE Corp of China. The device is priced at ¥14,800 (approx US$150), including a communication fee of ¥5,000 (500 minutes). Users can pay, for example, an extra ¥1,000 (100 minutes) or ¥5,000 (500 minutes) online to continue to use the service.
"We invented the service, inspired by 'Suika' and other such electronic money systems," said Sales Vice President Akihiko Sawa.
The time-based fee is applied when the Foma network is used. Doccica allows roaming on public wireless LAN services run by other carriers as well. Users are charged ¥300 (30 minutes) per day for using a wireless LAN service. The available public wireless LAN services are "Hot Spot," "BB Mobile Point," "Airport-Net" and "FreeSpot."
When the USB device is connected to a USB port and "b Access," PC software used for Doccica service, is started, the host device will display whether it is within the access area of the Foma network or any wireless LAN access point. Users can access the network just by clicking either of the "3G" or "WiFi" buttons, without the need to enter a user ID or password.
"We cannot reveal details, but our system automatically creates an ID and password for a wireless LAN service when the user starts using the service," Japan Communications said. "And it transmits them each time the user connects to the wireless LAN."
The company realized a so-called "level 2 connection" for the first time among mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) that use the Foma network.
"We have pursued a level 2 connection to generate unique added value," Sanda said.
In a level 3 connection, Japan Communications plans to acquire the gateway function, which mobile network carriers currently have, and allocate frequency bands depending on packet content and user type, making it easier for the company to operate corporate user services and device connection services.