Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.


Foma pcmcia card. A 3G data card that does 64K

My new SO504i

Today we had an i-mode council meeting. The i-mode council is a group of advisors for the i-mode group at NTT Docomo. It's an interesting meeting because we get to hear what NTT Docomo is thinking and the discussion is always very interesting.

I tried connect to the DDI Pocket 64K PHS Data network, but suprise suprise, I couldn't connect from the NTT Docomo meeting room. I complained and they lent me a new Foma 3G data card. It's much faster even though it is also only 64K because it doesn't have to go through the switch like the PHS card. It is much more expensive than the PHS network, but this one is Docomo's. On wonder how long I can keep it. ;-)

They also upgraded my SO503i to the new SO504i. The new i-mode phone goes 28.8K which feels MUCH faster than the old 9600 bps 503. The Java i-apli's run much faster and they can run in waiting mode and have news and weather pushed to them. We saw a demo of some old Nintendo games ported to the phone and they basically run as fast as the old game machines and the displays have more pixel depth!


There are two very fascinating points you've made here on Foma's 3G data capabilities that software companies really struggle with - at least here in the US:

(1) Always-on, and

(2) Push

At least if I understand your comments correctly, it seems like Foma is allowing both of these to happen. I wanted to ask: does the Foma data card seem to deliver the same experience, say, as an 802.11b card, where there is no "dial-up" - data packets are just available for applications to use?

Also, the push capabilities of the i-apli is a great development for mobile applications. I wonder: is it possible for the java applet to be running and receiving data at the same time as a voice call?

It wouldn't surprise me much: Japanese carriers seem to be much more willing than American ones to allow compelling applications to thrive!

Jim Coyer

I do have to "dial up" and log in witht he Foma Card so it does act a lot more like a modem and a lot less like a wireless lan. The billing is per packet and not per minute tho.

Currently the 504i's don't allow applications to run while voice is going on, but I THINK that some of the Foma's allow applications to run while talking. In this sense GSM is much better which allows SMS and GPRS to run while you're on the phone.

anyone know where to get an extra charger for the so504i? I need one.