DoCoMo Eyes Greeks

Japanese behemoth NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) is aiming to add another country to its growing list of European i-mode services, with Greek operator Cosmote expected to become the latest carrier to deploy its wireless data platform.

“We are in advanced stages of discussions,” a DoCoMo spokeswoman tells Unstrung. “We will announce more details when a final agreement is reached.”

DoCoMo was not prepared to specify a timeframe for potential rollout, but media reports suggest an early 2004 launch date is likely.

A Greek win would be DoCoMo’s seventh i-mode deal in Europe, following partnerships in Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, and Spain (see Móviles Launches i-Mode, Wind to Take i-Mode to Italy, I-Mode Set For France, and I-mode Gets on BASE).

The service has already achieved huge success for DoCoMo in its home country, recently exceeding the 40 million subscriber mark (see I-mode Subs Surpass 40M).

Analysts believe the deal gives both parties a welcome boost. “This deal expands DoCoMo’s European footprint,” comments IDC's senior analyst Paolo Pescatore. “When you consider that DoCoMo initially planned to launch i-mode in just one or two countries, they have expanded well.”

Pescatore adds that i-mode services will also give Cosmote an advantage over rivals Vodafone-Panafon and STET Hellas Telecommunications SA. “It will give the carrier another way of differentiating itself in the market following its impressive early offering.”

The Greek carrier has the largest market share of the country’s cellular subscriber base (37.3 percent and a total of nearly 4 million users), even though it launched GSM services five years later than its two main competitors. Last year the company recorded net profits of approximately €230 million (US$263 million).

Cosmote was unavailable for further comment.

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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