U.S. telco startup NextWave Wireless Inc., a technology and equipment provider, has announced that it will purchase a 69.23 percent equity stake in IP Mobile. This would make it the first foreign mobile phone carrier in Japan after the pull out by Britain’s Vodafone Group last year. Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications is expected to approve this acquisition.
If the deal should go through as expected, it is still not clear whether IP Mobile, under NextWave, could even become Japan’s fifth mobile phone carrier. Several hurdles remain in place, notably that IP Mobile’s license will expire unless the company can get operations rolling by November. The company was planning to offer high-speed data communication services, and was allocated a bandwidth for cellular phone services in the fall of 2005, along with Softbank Mobile Corp. and Emobile Ltd. Both have since started operation, while IP Mobile continues to be behind schedule.