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NEC Reenters U.S. Wireless Market Via AT&T

7/23/2003 02:36:00 PM Eastern

Irving, Texas - NEC America formally re-entered the U.S. wireless-phone market with the launch of a high-end color-screen phone available through all AT&T Wireless distribution channels at retail prices of $200 to $300, depending on the promotion and market.

The company's second phone will be a camera-phone due in the fourth quarter, said NEC business-development VP Scott Spreen. It will also be a quad-band GSM/GPRS phone operating in the U.S. 850/1900MHz bands and foreign 900/1800MHz bands.

NEC will eventually begin offering mid-tier phones in the U.S. but has no plans for entry-level models, he said. All future phones will either be GSM or third-generation W-CDMA models. Spreen didn't announce a timetable for a GSM/EDGE phone.

With the launch, NEC is following through on intentions that it outlined previously to TWICE (April 29, 2002, page 109; March 24, 2003, page 49). The company began marketing cellular car phones in the mid-1980s in the U.S. but stopped selling wireless handsets here in March 2001.

The launch of the 515 HDM (high definition mobile) phone is part of a plan by parent NEC Corp. to significantly increase its handset sales outside the maturing Japanese market. The company intends to generate 50 percent of its handset revenues in 2005 outside Japan, said Yoshiharu Tamura, GM of the mobile terminals division at NEC Corp. The company is aiming for a 15 percent share of the worldwide internet handset market, he added.

To deliver a high level of game play, the 3.53-ounce clamshell handset features 2.2-inch 65K color screen, 40-note polyphonic sound, vibration feedback, and simultaneous button pressing during game play, enabling users to point and shoot simultaneously.

The phone includes Java for wirelessly downloading Java-based games and other applications, a PIM that synchronizes with Microsoft Outlook, applications such as currency calculator, wallpaper and animations, MMS, picture caller ID, assignable ring tones and LED colors for incoming calls, internal antenna, 4.5-hour talk time, 205-hour standby time, and WAP 2.0 browser , which accesses WML, cHTML (iMode), and XML sites.

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