DOCOMO to launch budget 5G smartphone range; targets 2.5m subs by March 2021

10 Jul 2020

NTT DOCOMO President and Chief Executive Officer Kazuhiro Yoshizawa said in an interview this week (9 July) that the mobile network operator (MNO) will launch a new range of budget 5G smartphones later this year as it seeks to increase the number of subscribers on its new network from 170,000 currently, to around 2.5 million by end-March 2021. DOCOMO launched its fifth-generation network in March this year with the least expensive 5G-ready device costing JPY100,000 (USD932). However, Yoshizawa outlined plans for the release of a number of new models that could be ‘nearly half the price of the existing ones’. According to the official, the MNO experienced a delay in its procurement process in April/May this year – related to the COVID-19 pandemic – but the supply chain had returned to normal in June. Further, Yoshizawa said that the company targets the expansion of 5G services to cover ‘all of the country’s 20 ordinance-designated cities by the end of the current fiscal year,’ as planned. He also opined that rival Rakuten Mobile’s JPY2,980 per month for its 4G service (launched in April 2020) is ‘impressive’ but that DOCOMO ‘won’t compete on price anytime soon’ as customers ‘don’t find value only in a price’.