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Walt Disney: To Begin Mobile Services in Japan

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TOKYO (Dow Jones) Walt Disney's Japan unit said Tuesday its new Japanese cellphone service would start on March 1.

Disney will use Softbank's pricing plans and sales channels to become a mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO.

MVNOs are common outside Japan, though they have had mixed results. Disney last year hung up on an MVNO in the U.S. that used Sprint Nextel Corp.'s network, and in 2006 discontinued a similar service based on its ESPN sports TV network.

Softbank operates Japan's third-largest mobile phone network, behind leader NTT DoCoMo and No. 2 KDDI.

Disney's first handsets will be manufactured by Sharp Corp. (6753.TO).

-By Jay Alabaster, Dow Jones Newswires; 813-5255-2929; jay.alabaster@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

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