There were two key developments this week that affected Japan’s wireless broadband market: the Japanese government awarded WiMax network licenses to Willcom and a partnership led by KDDI Corp., and NTT DoCoMo teamed up with Google to bring e-mail, web search and other Google features to i-Mode wireless phones. KDDI, a major competitor against DoCoMo in Japan’s wireless phone service sector, and Willcom, a vehicle of the Carlyle Group, a U.S.-based investment firm, received government authorization to provide WiMax services on a nationwide scale via frequencies in the 2.5 GHz band. Sources indicate that DoCoMo and Softbank Corp. had also sought the licenses that will comprise the only WiMax authorizations to be awarded by the Japanese government. (Although other companies will be permitted to offer WiMax services, they will be forced to do so by leasing network capacity from KDDI or Willcom.) KDDI, whose WiMax partners include Intel of the U.S., Japanese electronics maker Kyocera, and East Japan Railway Co., is expected to spend U.S. $1.3 billion to achieve its goal of reaching 90% of Japan’s geographic area and 5.6 million WiMax customers by 2013. Officials of Willcom and KDDI are also projecting an initial WiMax launch by 2009. Meanwhile, Google is poised to expand its foothold in Japan’s wireless telephony market through an alliance with DoCoMo through which the global Internet giant would be provided with access to 48 million users of DoCoMo’s i-Mode phones. Although Google currently sits atop the worldwide web search market, it lags behind Yahoo Japan Corp. in attracting Japanese Internet users. Starting next spring, users of DoCoMo’s i-Mode service will be able to access Google e-mail, web search, photo and other features on their handsets. DoCoMo is also expected to employ Google’s free mobile device operating system in the development of new handsets that are capable of supporting a wide range of advanced services.