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Thursday, 17 May, 2001, 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK
Mobile internet boosts NTT profits
ntt docomo i-mode detail from website
NTT DoCoMo's i-mode service is hugely popular
Japan's largest telecoms group NTT has said that its mobile internet service is powering profits but its fixed telephone line business is weak.

The company unveiled profits after tax in the year to the end of March at about 464bn yen ($3.76bn), against a 67bn yen loss the year before.

It also forecast that net profits in the current financial year would plunge 72% as it faces growing competition in the market for local calls.

NTT's subsidiary DoCoMo is best known for its groundbreaking i-mode service, which allows subscribers to surf the web on their mobile phones.

DoCoMo made a record 365.5bn yen profit after tax for the year, about 87% of the group's total.

But results from the company's fixed line business were weak.

"They are not very good. The numbers could have been better," NTT president Junichiro Miyazu said at a news conference.

The results were broadly in line with analysts' forecasts of between 230bn-540bn yen. Although some were speculating that NTT might have to implement job cuts in a bid to remain profitable.

i-mode 'hugely popular'

DoCoMo's i-mode is hugely popular in Japan, used by more than 23 million subscribers who surf the web on credit-card-sized screens.

The company has said that it expects to have about 30 million i-mode subscribers by the end of the current business year - a forecast some analysts have said is conservative.

DoCoMo has a hold on 60% of the market for mobile phones in Japan.

It is that explosion in mobile phone use that, conversely, has taken business away from NTT's fixed line business.

Although a US-Japan trade pact last year also lowered fees for NTT's rivals, allowing more to enter the market, providing services for homes and businesses.

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See also:

09 May 01 | Business
DoCoMo defies telecoms gloom
24 Apr 01 | Business
DoCoMo: Racing to 3G launch
18 Jan 01 | Business
The i-mode comes to Europe
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