NTT DoCoMo expects to launch a mobile phone powered by a fuel-cell battery for extended hours of use as early as 2004, a potential boost for its high-speed third-generation (3G) service.

DoCoMo’s 3G service, which offers video conferencing and speedy access to the Web, had until recently met a cool reception due mainly to the poor battery life of its handsets.

User growth of the 3G service has picked up pace since DoCoMo, Japan’s top cellphone operator, launched new handsets with longer battery life earlier this year.

But the battery duration of those new models is still substantially shorter than the topline 2G models.

More here.