Japan’s largest wireless operator NTT DoCoMo has announced that it has connected its three millionth customer to its W-CDMA network FOMA. The figure goes far beyond DoCoMo’s targeted figure of 2.4 million subscribers for fiscal 2003 (ended 31 March 2004). DoCoMo attributes the rapid increase to the introduction of the 900i series of phones which offer a host of features including Java applications, HTML email, video phone capability and a two million pixel camera. Perhaps more importantly, however, the handset also offers battery life equivalent to second generation phones, countering earlier criticism that 3G phones were too power hungry and could not hold a charge for long enough.
In a move to take advantage of the new found impetus, DoCoMo has also revealed plans to cut its FOMA prices by up to 50% in May, as well as to introduce a tariff offering unlimited i-mode usage for a low flat fee. It will also lower the minimum allowances of selected charge plans without raising the per-packet communication rates.
In a separate announcement DoCoMo revealed that its number of indoor base stations had increased to 1,600, offering improved coverage in major buildings, underground malls and subway stations nationwide. Service is now available in 97 station on four lines of the Toei subway network and in 43 stations on seven lines of the Eidan subway network. By the end of April the FOMA network will have coverage of all 147 stations on the Eidan line.