Even though the U.S. seems to be bringing up the rear with telecommunications technology among developed countries, related exchange traded funds (ETFs) don’t appear to be suffering. You would think with the launch of the iPhone this year, we’d finally be caught up. But Japan is way ahead of us and using their phones for things that still exist only in our collective imaginations.

How far ahead are they? According to a report on NPR, phones in Japan can broadcast live television, shoot photos with 5 megapixels (most U.S. phones only shoot with 1 or 2 megapixel resolution), be aimed at a restaurant to get instant reviews and they can be used to pay for things like coffee or trips on the subway.

Don’t despair. The U.S. is slowly but surely catching up. The launch of the iPhone of the Verizon Voyager (although it has no television capability and its camera is 2 megapixels) certainly haven’t hurt. But if Japan’s cell phones are any indication, bigger and better things are on the way here. Among the several ways to catch the telecommunications wave, both domestically and abroad:

  • Wireless HOLDRs (WMH), up 22.7% year to date. Verizon (VZ) is 9.9% of the fund.
  • iShares S&P Global Telecommunications (IXP), up 25.0% year to date. AT&T (T), which partnered with Apple (AAPL) on the iPhone, is 14.7% of the fund. Verizon (VZ) is 7.9%.
  • WisdomTree International Communications (DGG), up 26.9% year to date

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.