Softbank Mobile launches Ericsson IMS over 3G solution, but worries remain over the cellco’s recovery

6 Dec 2006

Softbank Mobile of Japan has launched an IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) over 3G solution using equipment supplied by Ericsson. According to Cellular News, the new IMS platform will allow Softbank Mobile to launch a range of innovative services on the Japanese market, such as Circle Talk (push-to-talk) and HotStatus (presence, group list management). Ericsson has provided all the infrastructure, system integration and support services for the project, through a contract announced earlier this year.

In a separate story, the Financial Times reports that Softbank Mobile is in the spotlight following its recent decision to alter the way in which it counts subscribers. The change in methodology – it has extended the period in which it includes inactive users from six to twelve months – has raised concerns about the Japanese unit’s stability and whether it can turn round the faltering mobile business it bought from the UK’s Vodafone Group in March. As a result of the change, Softbank Mobile was able to report a net gain in subscribers, although its decision to include pay-as-you-go users who have not used their phone for up to a year is in stark contrast to its rivals which generally use a three-month cut-off period. Local analysts estimate the company was able to add 30,000 to 35,000 users to its base through the accounting change, and this helped boost its customer total to 15.33 million in October, up 23,800 on the previous month. Without the change the company would have reported a net loss of around 5,000 users. Softbank Mobile explained the decision saying it is an improvement to its customer service package that allows inactive users to keep their number for a full year before deciding whether to use their phone again.

Japan, Ericsson, SoftBank Corp