TOKYO (08/07/2000) - In just under a year and a half of service, NTT DoCoMo Inc. signed up the 10 millionth subscriber to its I-mode wireless Internet service on Sunday.
The milestone was passed on I-mode's 532nd day of service, said NTT DoCoMo spokeswoman Yuki Isono Monday.
I-mode, launched in February 1999, allows users to exchange e-mail with other I-mode users and Internet users, and to access web sites written in Compact HTML, a DoCoMo-designed subset of the HTML language used for conventional web sites. The service launched with 70 sites, and now the number of I-mode sites has grown to well over 10,000 with a mixture of both commercial and user-designed sites.
I-mode has been offered as a basic option on all cellphones sold by the company since June this year, although users still have to opt for the service and pay a basic monthly fee of 300 yen (US$2.75). On top of the monthly fee, users are charged for the number of data packets sent and received, at a rate of 0.3 yen per 128 bytes.
The popularity of I-mode has not come without its problems however. The service suffered several high-profile failures during March and April, after servers at the company failed to keep up with demand for the service. At the end of May, the carrier said it had fixed the problems although on Saturday evening, as it was on the verge of signing up its 10 millionth customer, service was interrupted again.
This time, however, the failure was caused by a lightning strike on a DoCoMo packet switching center near Tokyo. The packet data network failed in a large area of central Japan, including Tokyo, at 5.55pm on Saturday evening as a result of the strike and remained unavailable until 10:38pm the same evening.
I-mode Subscriptions Since Launch (Source: NTT DoCoMo)Subscriber number Date achieved1 million Aug. 8, 19992 million Oct. 18, 19993 million Dec. 23, 19994 million Feb. 12, 20005 million March 15, 20006 million April 15, 20007 million May 26, 20008 million June 24, 20009 million July 1510 million Aug. 6NTT DoCoMo, in Tokyo, can be contacted at +81-3-5563-7015 or found online at http://www.nttdocomo.co.jp/.