Luxury mobile phone brand Vertu, owned by Finnish cell phone giant Nokia, will offer mobile services in Japan, Vertu and Nokia Siemens Networks said in a joint statement.
The service, which Vertu's web site says is called Vertu Club, is launching in Q2. Vertu plans to offer among other services a members-only concierge. Vertu is also opening up its first store in Japan, a flagship branch in Tokyo's Ginza shopping area in mid February.
Siemens Networks will host the operator service. The Finnish company will become a so-called Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), thus becoming the first mobile phone maker to encroach on the Japanese service provider domain, which has been dominated by domestic companies.
Last November, Nokia pulled out of the Japanese market due to disappointing sales, but chose to leave its high-end Vertu brand in the country.
Vertu, which makes expensive, handcrafted handsets that are often embellished with titanium, gold, jewels and crystal, said it would offer high-end services including a personal concierge service for its users.
"Meeting the needs of customers in this segment requires a specialised approach. Vertu users the world over are discerning individuals who are willing to pay a premium for the right experience," Tagore Ramoutar, Vertu's director of business development for Japan and Korea, said in a statement.
NSN said it had been contracted to host Vertu's MVNO service from its Singapore hosting centre.
Mobile devices designed by foreign manufacturers have traditionally been unpopular among Japan's notoriously finicky consumers and the many domestic operators have tended to link their subscriptions with Japanese-made phones.
Nokia is convinced that its hand-made, bejewled phones that are priced as high as 100,000 euros ($132,067) have a place in the world's fourth largest market.