Japan’s largest mobile operator NTT DoCoMo has revealed plans to launch a converged fixed and mobile service, in conjunction with its parent, wireline operator NTT. The new service will be available to both business and residential customers, giving them the opportunity to use a fixed line and mobile phone with the same number. The operator hopes that the launch will give it a competitive advantage in the mobile market, where it has lost market share to its rivals in recent years. DoCoMo said that its 3G network will provide the foundation to offer the converged offering, but has not revealed when it will launch the new service.
DoCoMo entered the mobile market when its parent NTT launched an analogue network in 1987; this has now been closed and replaced by DoCoMo’s PDC-800/1500 networks. Today the cellco is Japan’s dominant mobile provider, operating through its eight regional subsidiaries – Hokkaido, Tohoku, Tokai, Hokuriku, Kansai, Chugoku, Shikoku and Kyushu. It provides services in three main areas: Cellular Phone Services, covering cellular and packet communications; Personal HandyPhone Systems (PHS), offering high speed data and mobile computing; and a paging service, Quickcast. It launched its 3G service, Foma, in October 2001, the first operator in the world to do so. At the end of June 2004 NTT DoCoMo had a customer base of 46.41 million.
Parent company Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) is Japan’s leading fixed line provider. It held a monopoly in Japan’s local and long-distance markets until 1985, and was allowed to enter the international telephony market in 1999, but was required to restructure itself into three operating divisions before it could do so. it consequently formed two regional local fixed line companies – NTT West and NTT East – with its international operations to be provided by a third division, NTT Communications. It claimed a total of 50.9 million fixed line subscribers at the end of its financial year in March 2004.