is in a bit of a pickle right now -- the niche wireless standard has no path for technological growth, has just a handful of supporting carriers around the world, and frankly, was never intended for wide-area deployment to boot. That leaves Japan's PHS-powered network, Willcom
, in the lurch, which explains why they've recently hooked up with HSPA giant NTT DoCoMo to launch modern data devices. Mooching off someone else's network isn't a long-term strategy for survival, though, so what's next? Reports are flying in Japan today that rival SoftBank
may look at scooping up Willcom's assets in exchange for its debtors waiving some percentage of its $1 billion in IOUs; what SoftBank would ultimately do with that extra spectrum is unclear, but presumably they'd continue to run PHS for some predetermined period of time before transitioning it to HSPA or LTE. Of course, Willcom has a rep for releasing wild devices that avoid the beaten path set by its larger rivals, so here's a preliminary word to the wise, SoftBank: if you make this happen, keep the product people on board.