Multi-media music service goes live Aug. 31.

NTT DoCoMo, Inc., the Japanese giant wireless carrier, is launching a High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) service on Aug. 31, in time for the company's new multi-media music service.

The move will also coincide with the sales of Japan's first HSDPA-compatible handset, the 3G FOMA N902iX High-Speed, which is made by Japanese manufacturer NEC Corp.

HSDPA, sometimes referred to as 3.5G, transmits bigger files of multimedia content at speeds of up to 10 times faster than current 3G handsets.

The new network and handset will be compatible with NTT DoCoMo's new mobile "Music Channel" service, which also rolls out on Aug. 31.

Music Channel will provide rich-media programs of about one-hour, which can be downloaded in just a few minutes, according to NTT.

The nine content providers include radio station J-Wave, cable radio provider Usen, and top indie label Avex.

Music Channel will be compatible only with the new HSDPA handsets and subscription will cost ¥300 ($2.58) per month.

The new handset also supports Chaku-Uta Full, a full-track download service from rival telecommunications group KDDI, for no additional fee.

Mobile-phone downloads account for around 93% of Japan's music downloads, according to the Recording Industry Assn. of Japan.

High-speed access will be made available to all central areas of Tokyo from Aug. 31, and plans are in place for all major Japanese cities to be covered by the end of October.

Expansion will continue with NTT DoCoMo planning to have 70% of the national population covered by the end of March 2007, and 90% by the end of March 2008.