NTT DoCoMo eclipsed its Japanese 3G rivals in August by signing up the most new subscribers during the month. DoCoMo added 628,500 new customers to its FOMA W-CDMA service, taking its total 3G customer base to around 5.9 million. Its main rival, KDDI, gained 376,300 new 3G subscribers in August, although it is still by far the country’s largest next generation operator with more than 15.5 million users on its CDMA2000 1X network at the end of the month.
DoCoMo has been building up its 3G subscriber base steadily during 2004, after a slow start saw it sign up just 142,000 users in the first twelve months of operation after its launch in October 2001. A year later its 3G customers numbered 1.33 million, way behind the 10.66 million attracted to the KDDI CDMA2000 service. New handsets, improved coverage and increased roaming abilities have all helped DoCoMo close the gap on the 3G market leader.
The smallest of Japan’s 3G network operators, Vodafone KK, gained just 18,700 new high speed users over the month to take its total 3G customer base to 237,600. The country was home to almost 83.47 million mobile subscribers at the end of August, up from 78.22 million a year earlier. DoCoMo is the clear market leader with 46.75 million customers, while KDDI has 21.59 million and Vodafone KK claims 15.12 million.