Japanese 3G subscribers to reach 2M in 2002

Japan is expected to have 2 million subscribers to 3G (third-generation) mobile phone services by the end of 2002, market analyst The Yankee Group predicted in a recent research note.

Japan currently has one commercial 3G service, which is operated by NTT DoCoMo Inc. Launched on Oct. 1, DoCoMo's Foma 3G service had attracted just 27,000 subscribers by the end of 2001, according to Japan's Telecommunication Carrier's Association.

Despite getting off to a slow start in 2001, NTT DoCoMo will meet its target of signing up 150,000 subscribers for its Foma service by the end of March, The Yankee Group said. And that's just the beginning of an expected surge in 3G subscriptions. The number of 3G subscribers in Japan is expected to rise "dramatically" during mid-2002, when KDDI Corp. and J-Phone roll out their commercial 3G services, it said.

The number of Internet-enabled mobile handsets is also expected to increase. As of November, 70 percent of all handsets used in Japan were equipped with Internet access and browsers, The Yankee Group said. That figure is expected to increase to 95 percent by the end of 2002, with all new and replacement handsets sold in Japan to be Internet-enabled, it said.

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