In September, Japanese joint venture Casio Hitachi Mobile Communications (CHMC) announced it would be merging with NEC's mobile division into an even bigger joint venture that will be called NEC Casio Mobile Communications Ltd.
The merger was to be completed in April 2010, but today the companies announced that getting regulatory approval is taking longer than anticipated (PDF available here). They hope the merger will only be delayed by about one month, but it remains in the hands of international antitrust regulators.
CHMC sells a number of CDMA handsets to KDDI Corporation and SoftBank Mobile in Japan which include the Exilim-branded line of 12-megapixel camera phones; LG Telecom in Korea, and Verizon Wireless in the US, which include the ruggedized G'Zone line of phones.
While the joint venture's strength comes from Casio's compact imaging and water/shockproofing technology, and Hitachi's wireless communications offerings, the partnership with NEC will extend its focus to include UMTS and LTE development and improve its efforts in Linux-based environments.
The Japanese wireless business is going through a generational shift right now and the addition of NEC to CHMC's business will prove advantageous as the country shuffles its wireless spectrum. For example, one of Casio Hitachi's major Japanese partners, Softbank Mobile, will be discontinuing its 2G service entirely at the end of March. Softbank first announced the sunset in July 2008, and now the major carrier is just weeks away from being all 3G and up.
Last week, the world's biggest 2G PHS network operator Willcom filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo, reporting liabilities of over $2.2 billion. This amounts to the biggest bankruptcy in Japan's telecommunications history, and the Nikkei business daily reported that Willcom will spin off its next-generation PHS data network (called XGP, similar to WiMAX) to Softbank and Advantage Partners LLP.
Hitachi and NEC Infrontia (NEC and Nitsuko Corporation's POS and digital telephone business) are supporters of the technology, and are both members of the XGP Forum.