NTT to launch fixed line I-mode like service

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) plans a text-based information service for home telephones, hoping to repeat the success of its mobile division's I-mode mobile Internet service.

          The two local carriers of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) say they will next year launch a text-based information service for home telephones, hoping to repeat the success of the parent company's I-mode mobile Internet service. The new service will be called "L-mode."

          NTT East and NTT West , the two local carriers that will jointly provide the service from early next year, explained the name stands for living, lady and local, because of the type of information that will be offered, and large, because of the large-size LCD (liquid crystal display) and buttons on the telephones featuring access to the service will offer.

          Japan already has around 30 million Internet users but they are mostly computer-literate and in their teens, 20s and 30s. NTT hopes the L-mode service will provide a cheap and convenient way to provide access to e-mail and basic information services in much the same way that I-mode has done for its users.

          I-mode, which is provided by cellular carrier NTT DoCoMo, has quickly grown since it was launched in early 1999 and now counts 13.3 million subscribers. Users can access basic web sites that offer everything from news and information to games, banking and horoscopes, and also send and receive e-mail.

          L-mode will be offered to NTT's ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) customers and will also be available from its smart card public telephones. At home, access will be possible via a range of telephones and fax machines that have larger than normal LCD screens. The fax machines will also be able to print out information from the service, said NTT.

          Announcing its intentions Wednesday, NTT also put out a call for partners to both produce telephones and fax machines for the service and to provide content. L-mode will use simple HTML (hypertext markup language), said NTT. The I-mode service uses a cut-down version of HTML called Compact HTML.

          NTT, in Tokyo, can be contacted found online at http://www.ntt.co.jp/.

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