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In an statement that's intended to show that it can deal with network operators as well as the handset guys, Symbian has announced a partnership with DoCoMo, the vertically integrated Japanese giant. The deal focuses on next-generation 3G (3GPP) technology that should reach the market in 2005.

DoCoMo already ships two Symbian 3G phone in Japan, the Fujitsu F2051 and F2102V, but this agreement is the sign of changing times.

In the late 1990s, handset manufacturers dictated terms to the network operators about what to expect and when. These days, as the success of Vodafone's Live! service has shown, operators want to own the brand and dictate the user experience, from content through to billing. But Japan has developed a different model, and DoCoMo is perhaps the oldest hand at this game. DoCoMo tells the handset manufacturers what to build, and keeps the IP.

Under the terms of the agreement announced today, Symbian will ship a reference design to DoCoMo that conform with the network's 3G FOMA stack, which will then be used as the basis for third-party handset manufacturers.

DoCoMo was the first to introduce W-CDMA and so suffered more than its share of teething troubles, suffering recalls of buggy handsets from NEC and Sony.

Symbian's BenQ P30 phone, which uses the UIQ pen interface that debuted in the Sony Ericsson P800 and used in Motorola's A830 and A835 3G phones, is expected to ship by the end of the year. ®

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