Japan Strives to Restore Services

In the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, mobile operators and communication service providers are still working to restore services in the country. (See Quake Rattles Japan Telecom and Japan's Comms Still Hampered.)

Their work is challenged by rolling power blackouts and the threat of a new crisis, as fears grow over radiation leaks following the explosions that caused damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

But there are clear signs of progress.

  • NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) says it's still working to repair mobile services in the Tohoku Region, which have become "difficult or impossible," by sending in mobile base station vehicles, power-supply vehicles and generators. The operator said that 2,470 base stations were unavailable in the Tohoku and Kanto regions as of 10 a.m. on March 15.

  • There has been progress in the repair of damaged base stations, as reported by Wireless Watch Japan: By the end of the business day on March 15, Docomo had reduced the number of non-working sites to 2,130; KDDI Corp. 's and SoftBank Corp. 's damaged-site counts stood at 1,500 and 1,157, respectively, down from 3,800 and 3,786 at the peak of the crisis. The report notes, however, that there are still voice traffic restrictions in place.

  • Softbank implemented restrictions to some voice calls on Monday morning, but has offered free text messaging for a week. The operator is also offering its Wi-Fi public hotspot service for free to anyone who has a Wi-Fi-enabled phone, including customers of other mobile operators.

  • The crisis in Japan has forced Docomo to cancel its participation in the CTIA Wireless 2011 trade show in Orlando, Florida next week. The operator had planned to show there a glasses-free 3-D mobile display, a futuristic LTE application that translates a speaker's words into the native language of the listener, as well as a multimedia demonstration from its PacketVideo subsidiary. (See DoCoMo Cancels CTIA Participation.)

  • Nokia Networks said that all of its 1,500 employees and subcontractors are safe and accounted for, in a blog post on Monday. The company said it is assessing the situation with its operator customers' networks in the country.

  • Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) said on Wednesday that, "It is reasonable to expect that the events in Japan will affect supply of components but it is too early to say to what extent." The company also said that it had no reports of missing or injured employees. (See Ericsson Evaluates Earthquake Effect.)

  • Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) has decided to delay the launch of the iPad 2 in Japan, which was scheduled for March 25, reports Bloomberg. The company also closed its retail store in Sendai.

  • Japanese cable operator Jupiter Telecommunications Co. Ltd. (J:COM) said it is experiencing "major service disruptions" in Sendai, but services in other areas are almost back to normal. The operator said it was assessing the overall effects of the disaster, including planned power stoppages in the Kanto area. (See J:COM Updates on Earthquake Damage .)

  • In a show of support for Japan and the people struggling to survive this crisis, many service providers are offering free calls to the country, including AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), T-Mobile US Inc. , Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). In addition, several mobile operators have launched SMS fundraising campaigns for Japan, such as Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF). The Spanish giant will donate the cost of the SMS messages, which is €1.2 (US$1.6) plus tax, to the Red Cross. (See Comcast Provides Free Calls to Japan.)

    — Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

  • digits 12/5/2012 | 5:10:20 PM
    re: Japan Strives to Restore Services

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