Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp yesterday (19 April) announced that it intends to stop providing personal handyphone system (PHS) services to general users in July 2020, spelling the end for PHS in the country. The Mainichi newspaper reports that with 3G and 4G smartphone ownership now ubiquitous in Japan, the group’s Softbank Mobile unit – which introduced the PHS service in 1995 since when it has been selling handsets under the budget brand ‘Ymobile’ – stopped accepting new contracts for individuals (i.e. consumer market segment) in March 2018. Meanwhile, new contracts for PHS services based on M2M-based inter-device communications, such as at vending machines and parking meters, will stop from March 2019, with the service being phased out entirely from that date. At its peak in 1997, around seven million contracts were signed for PHS services, but the figure has been on the decline due to a decrease in demand in the face of more advanced and increasingly more affordable alternatives.