Japan cell phone Internet subscriptions pass 40 million

The number of subscriptions in Japan for cell phone handsets capable of accessing mobile Internet services has broken the 40 million mark, according to data just released by the Telecommunications Carriers Association (TCA). The TCA also reported that the total number of mobile telephone subscriptions in Japan was just under 70 million at the end of June.

Subscriptions to wireless Internet services stood at 40.4 million at the end of June, according to TCA's latest monthly report. The figure represented an increase of 1.7 million compared to the end of May but is the smallest month-on-month increase so far this year. The TCA's figures for May showed a similar increase, but those for earlier in the year had monthly increases of more than 2 million users. In March, for example, which is just before many Japanese start school, university or new jobs, the TCA figures showed an increase of 3.2 million users.

NTT DoCoMo's I-mode service is Japan's most popular wireless Internet service by far, with 25.0 million subscriptions at the end of June, according to TCA. The EZweb service of KDDI Corp.'s Au and Tu-Ka cellular units made second place with 7.6 million subscriptions, and J-Phone Communications Co. Ltd.'s J-Sky service had 7.0 million subscriptions.

In the overall cellular market, the total number of subscriptions climbed 698,000 in June to reach 63.4 million by the end of the month. NTT DoCoMo's 37.3 million customers gave it a 58.9 percent market share, while KDDI's Au had an 18.2 percent share, J-Phone had a 16.6 percent share and KDDI's Tu-Ka had a 6.4 percent share.

The number of mobile handsets with Internet capabilities is growing faster than overall cellular users, as existing customers upgrade their handsets.

Subscriptions to Personal Handyphone System (PHS) services fell 0.3 percent in the month to 5.8 million. PHS is a lower power, cheaper wireless telephone system whose popularity is lagging among consumers. With its figures added to the total cellular subscriber base, the total number of mobile telephone subscriptions in Japan was 69.2 million at the end of June, the TCA said.

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