Japan Cellular Internet Users Double in Q1

BOSTON (05/08/2000) - The number of Japanese cellular telephone users accessing e-mail and browsing Web sites via their phones doubled in the first three months of this year, according to data released recently by the country's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT).

The MPT said the number of people subscribing to cellular telephone services that offer Internet access and e-mail jumped from 3.67 million at the end of December last year to 7.50 million at the end of March this year -- an impressive 48.9 percent jump.

Many of the subscribers are using the i-mode service offered by NTT DoCoMo Inc. which, at the end of March, claimed 5.6 million subscribers. The rapid growth of the service recently led the carrier to halt advertising and halve shipments of telephones into the market in an attempt to slow down the rise in subscribers as a number of glitches resulting in system failures were worked out of the system. [See "NTT DoCoMo Hits the Brakes on I-mode," April 21.]In the conventional Internet access market, the number of subscribers also increased.

The MPT said its new Internet index, which counts subscribers at Japan's 15 largest ISPs (Internet service providers), was 112.7 at the end of March from a base of 100.0 at the beginning of the year representing a rise of 12.7 percent.

In terms of subscribers, the 15 major Japanese ISPs counted 11.93 million subscribers at the end of March this year based on the percentage increase applied to December 1999's base of 10.59 million subscribers.

Cable Internet service subscriptions rose from 154,000 to 216,000 over the three-month period as the number of cable TV operators offering Internet service increased from 84 to 89, the MPT said.

The MPT, based in Tokyo, can be reached via the Internet at http://www.mpt.go.jp/.

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