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Japanese customers didn’t buy a single 2G handset during January, which could be why Japanese network operator NTT DoCoMo has decided to stop providing sub-3G connectivity by 2012.

Although just over 4m mobile phones were shipped to Japanese stores during the first month of the year, the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITIA) said that it was the first time no 2G handsets were sold.

It’s little surprise, then, that NTT DoCoMo, which was the world’s first carrier to offer 3G services, back in 2001, has decided to cut 2G loose within four years.

The carrier’s decision probably won’t have a massive effect on the country’s mobile users - JEITIA already estimates that 85 per cent of Japanese handset oweners are on 3G models - but it's a sign the shift away from old, voice-oriented technologies toward more data-centric systems has taken hold.

Japan’s not the first country to pencil in a timeline for a 2G black-out. South Korea has already almost finished with the connection.

Around 50 per cent of US and Western European mobile phone sales are currently estimated to include 3G subscriptions. However, mobile television, which is already a huge success in Japan, hasn’t yet caught on over here.

Nokia’s already embracing telly on the go. Its upcoming flagship 16GB N69 handset includes a DVB-H tuner.

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