Japanese cellco KDDI-owned au Corporation has revealed that it added 239,300 new customers to its network during the course of November, accounting for around 70% of all new additions in the sector. The growth took its total customer base to 15.69 million, cementing its number two position in the sector. Market leader NTT DoCoMo added 18%, or 68,300 subscribers, lifting its total to 46.91 million, although it saw a gain of 289,300 in its 3G FOMA offering as clients upgraded to the next-generation service. The country’s third largest operator, Vodafone KK (formerly J-Phone), saw steady growth, adding 35,500 new subscribers to take its customer base to 14.57 million. KDDI, which secured 52.6%, or 185,900, of all new subscribers in October, has put its recent successes down to the strength of its cdma2000 1x promotion, as well as a new phone line called INFOBAR, which it claims has attracted users thanks to its original design.
au Corporation was formed when the businesses of the country’s former number two operator DDI and smaller cellco IDO were merged in November 2000. Of its total 15.69 million subscribers, 4.51 million were cdmaOne (2G) users and 11.17 million cdma2000 (2.5G) customers. In April 2002 KDDI, in collaboration with Okinawa Cellular, launched a mobile roaming service, Global Passport, enabling customers to use their mobile phones abroad. Since its launch, the service has been made available in Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, the Islands of Guam and Saipan, South Korea, New Zealand, the US and Taiwan. The company launched a PDC service in 1994, which witnessed a strong start, but saw its popularity decline when the company’s cdmaOne service was introduced in 1998. At the end of March 2003 the number of PDC subscribers stood at 34,900, having fallen from 1.2 million the year before, prompting the company to discontinue the service the following month. KDDI launched its 2.5G service in April 2002, based on the cdma2000 1x standard. It also operates a mobile internet access service, EZWeb, which claimed 14.14 million customers. In October 2003 KDDI and Okinawa Cellular Telephone announced the launch of CDMA 1x WIN technology, enabling high speed data communications of up to 2.4Mbps.