Nokia to start Japan cell phone service in 2009: report

TOKYO (Reuters) - Nokia Corp plans to launch a mobile phone service in Japan next spring, a move expected to intensify competition among Japanese cell phone carriers, Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun reported on Saturday.

Finnish cell phone manufacturer Nokia is expected to use lines owned by Japan’s biggest mobile phone carrier, NTT Docomo Inc, under an arrangement called mobile virtual network operator, the paper said.

Nokia will first offer the service with high-end models to establish a strong brand, Yomiuri said.

Nokia is the world’s biggest handset maker but holds less than a 1 percent market share in Japan. Major Japanese cell phone makers, such as Sharp Corp, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co Ltd and NEC Corp, dominate the world’s most advanced handset market.

Reporting by Yuzo Saeki; Editing by Ben Tan