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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 August, 2003, 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK
DoCoMo shows 3G pick-up
Japanese mobile user
Japanese mobile users seem keen on 3G services
Japanese mobile phone users appear to be taking to third-generation (3G) services, including Internet access and video services, if NTT DoCoMo's latest results are anything to go by.

Japan's top mobile phone firm reported a quarterly profit on Thursday of 196.8bn yen ($1.66bn) for the three months to June, about 32% of its projected annual profit.

The company did not provide a comparable figure for the same period last year, as this is the first time it has reported quarterly results.

"Business is making good progress so far," said DoCoMo's chief financial officer, Masayuki Hirata.

Seen as a pioneer in the mobile telephone industry, DoCoMo's success in getting customers to sign up to 3G services is being watched closely in Europe.

Mobile companies worldwide have spent huge sums on setting up ultra-rapid 3G services, which allow subscribers to surf the internet and send audio and video clips using their handsets.

But consumer appetite for the new services has been lukewarm so far, stirring fears that mobile operators may have difficulty recouping their investment.

Spending boost

Users of Docomo's 3G service, known as FOMA (Freedom Of Mobile multimedia Access), spent 9,610 yen per month on the cutting edge service last quarter, up from 8,040 in the previous three months.

New avenues

Docomo's mainstay 2G service, which has more than 44 million subscribers, fared well, too, with users spending an average of 8,040 yen per month in the quarter, ahead of earlier estimates of 7,810 yen per month.

However, the company's 3G service is facing stiff competition from that of its rival KDDI.

KDDI last week reported that it had earned more than 60% of its projected full-year net profit in the first quarter.

DoCoMo said given the market saturation of the mobile phone market, getting customers to sign up to new services will be crucial.

"As we are expecting a slower growth rate (in new mobile phone subscriptions) in the future, we will try to further increase the number of i-mode subscribers and boost the volume of data traffic on our networks," DoCoMo president Keiji Tachikawa said.

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