Why Japan is several years ahead of Europe in telecoms…

Japan's telecommunications industries

Briefing the EU Attaches at the EU Embassy in Tokyo about the reasons behind Vodafone’s departure from Japan

The deeper reasons and background on why Vodafone failed in Japan

Today (March 23, 2006) I was invited to brief the Technology Attaches of the Embassies of the 25 European Union countries here in Tokyo about Japan’s telecommunications sector (both fixed net and wireless) in a one hour presentation + discussion. I had offered several alternative topics and the conference of EU Technology Attaches selected the most provocative title I had offered:

Why Japan is several years ahead of Europe in telecommunications and what Europe can do to catch up

Vodafone KK’s Chairman and former NTT-DoCoMo Vice-President Tsuda, who had worked 34 years at NTT and DoCoMo (and who resigned from his Vodafone-Japan CEO position a few weeks after being head-hunted), said in a recent interview with Bloomberg that “Japan is way ahead in 3G”. – therefore, although this title is clearly provocative, it’s clearly worthwhile examining this question. With the sale of Vodafone KK to SoftBank last week, the timing of this briefing was particularly interesting. My presentation discussed the following questions:

  • Is Japan ahead of Europe in Telecommunications?
  • Why?
  • What is the impact?
  • Is this important?
  • What Europe can do to catch up

Download a pdf-file with the slides of my presentation here (for current (2006) corporate customers, we offer this presentation free of charge (please contact us for your copy), for others the presentation is available for purchase)

Read our report on Japan’s telecom sector to understand more

Report on Japan’s telecommunications industries (approx. 270 pages, pdf file)
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Copyright·©1997-2013 ·Eurotechnology Japan KK·All Rights Reserved·

IP backbone for Japan’s mobile operators

Japan’s telecom operators are investing to build IP (Internet Protocol) backbone networks:

IP backbone networks of Japan's mobile telecom operators
IP backbone networks of Japan’s mobile telecom operators

More: Japan Telecommunications report

Copyright·©1997-2013 ·Eurotechnology Japan KK·All Rights Reserved·

Mobile operators invest US$ 15 billion

Japan’s top three mobile operators DoCoMo, KDDI and Vodafone announced plans to invest about US$ 15 billion during FY 2005 (April 2005 – March 2006):

Infrastructure investments (capex) by Japan's mobile phone operators - Vodafone's investments were systematically reduced and are by far the lowest of Japan's three large operators
Infrastructure investments (capex) by Japan’s mobile phone operators – Vodafone’s investments were systematically reduced and are by far the lowest of Japan’s three large operators

For recent financial data and analysis of Japan’s telecom and mobile sector: Eurotechnology report on Japan’s telecom industries

Find details about SoftBank’s acquisition of Vodafone KK (Vodafone’s Japan company) in our SoftBank report

Copyright·©1997-2013 ·Eurotechnology Japan KK·All Rights Reserved·

Japan’s mobile subscriber data for March 2005

March is the month when new subscriptions peak in Japan. During March 2005 around one million new subscribers signed up for mobile services in Japan, the net gain (new subscriptions minus cancellations) was 930,500. New subscribers were shared as follows between carriers:

DoCoMo: + 480,200 (+ 51.6%)
KDDI/AU: + 436,100 (+ 46.9%)
WILLCOM: + 33,300 (+ 3.6%)
KDDI/TuKa: – 2,600 (- 0.3%)
Vodafone: -7,400 (-0.8%) (previous counting method: -58,400)
Astel: – 9,100 (- 1.0%)

TOTAL: + 930,500 (100%)

Vodafone announced a new method to calculate numbers. Without this new way of calculating, Vodafone’s loss would have been: -58,400

Net growth (loss) of subscribers per month for Japan's mobile operators - Vodafone drops into the red, losing subscribers despite a new way of counting them
Net growth (loss) of subscribers per month for Japan’s mobile operators – Vodafone drops into the red, losing subscribers despite a new way of counting them
Net growth (loss) of mobile internet subscribers (i-Mode, EZweb and Vodafone Live!): since Vodafone renamed Jsky to Vodafone Live!, its rapidly losing market share
Net growth (loss) of mobile internet subscribers (i-Mode, EZweb and Vodafone Live!): since Vodafone renamed Jsky to Vodafone Live!, its rapidly losing market share

Copyright·©1997-2013 ·Eurotechnology Japan KK·All Rights Reserved·

Japan mobile subscriber data for Feb 2005

Japan’s mobile subscriber numbers for Feb 2005 came out yesterday…

DoCoMo is ahead again after a soft period on the strength of services and handsets, and KDDI/AU is still going strong driven by the designer series, good tariffs/discounts, music, WIN etc.

Willcom (the former DDI-Pocket) is strengthening under new management, new name and new campaigns and network upgrades, TuKa is falling back after it’s great “TuKa-S” success… and Vodafone succeeded to stabilize subscriber losses somewhat which is a mild step in the right direction and might be the first indication of Mr Tsuda’s influence…

Stimulated by the needs of our customers, who need to roll out services across the networks in Japan, we have started market surveys, interviewing mobile phone customers of all kinds on Tokyo’s streets in “focus groups”, as we do when required for our customers to get a feel for the market. I always make a point to take part personally in such consumer research, and often do some myself. In the case of mobile phone habits, the first approach at interviewing just reflects back the messages of the commercials and publicity campaigns. Only in-depth interviewing and discussion then reveals the real thoughts which are normally quite different. We learnt a lot about what average Japanese consumers think about DoCoMo, AU and Vodafone, building up a good picture. But the numbers also tell a clear story:

Subscriber net growth/loss for Japan's mobile phone and PHS operators
Subscriber net growth/loss for Japan’s mobile phone and PHS operators

Copyright·©1997-2013 ·Eurotechnology Japan KK·All Rights Reserved·

NTT to invest US$ 45 Billion over 6 years

NTT investments: US$ 45 billion over next 6 years

NTT investments to defend NTT against challengers KDDI and Softbank

KDDI and SoftBank challenging NTT’s dominating position in Japan’s telecom sector

Softbank is rapidly becoming the third universal telco in Japan, targeting NTT’s most important income streams. KDDI of course is also targeting NTT’s fixed line income.

NTT plans to intensify its defensive battle

On November 2, 2004, NTT announced plans to compete: NTT will invest 5 Chou YEN (YEN 5000 Billion = US$ 45 Billion) over 6 years (2005-2010), i.e. about US$ 7.5 Billion/year. 60% of this investment will be for optical IP networks. NTT plans to build about 30 million FTTH lines.

NTT fibre to the home (FTTH) contracts
NTT fibre to the home (FTTH) contracts

read more here in our report on Japan’s telecom sector…

Copyright·©1997-2013 ·Eurotechnology Japan KK·All Rights Reserved·

Update on Prepaid Phones in Japan

Prepaid mobile phones are a huge business in Europe.

In Japan prepaid mobile phone numbers are tiny, and NTT’s new CEO just announced that NTT-DoCoMo is planning to stop offering prepaid mobile phones altogether.

Find detailed statistics and market shares per operator for Japan’s prepaid market in our report on Japan’s telecommunications sector.

Copyright·©1997-2013 ·Eurotechnology Japan KK·All Rights Reserved·

Version 8 of the "i-Mode report"

Completed version 8 of the “i-Mode Report” (260 pages, 45 figures, 120 photographs, and 25 tables)

Main changes and additions:

updated most statistics and graphs
added a section on mobile games on i-mode
updated the international section
updated the 3G section
updated the i-mode-FeliCa wallet-phone section
corrected many errors
updated the section on Japan’s telecom landscape: added recent transactions, and updated graphics

Copyright·©1997-2013 ·Eurotechnology Japan KK·All Rights Reserved·

21.6 million 3G subscribers in Japan (31 August 2004)

The mobile phone subscriber statistics for August 2004 in Japan came out:

3G subscribers:

KDDI/AU: 15,511,800 subscribers, conversion rate to 3G: 86.1%
DoCoMo: 5,900,200 subscribers, conversion rate to 3G: 12.6%
Vodafone: 237,600 subscribers, conversion rate to 3G: 1.6%

Copyright·©1997-2013 ·Eurotechnology Japan KK·All Rights Reserved·

Economist on 3G: "Vision, meet reality"

Just read an article in the Economist:

“Mobile 3G telecoms: Vision, meet reality”

which quotes ITU’s 2000 vision for 3G (ITU = International Telecommunication Union):

The device will function as a phone, a computer, a television, a pager, a videoconferencing centre, a newspaper, a diary and even a credit card…it will support not only voice communications but also real-time video and full-scale multimedia. It will automatically search the internet for relevant news and information on pre-selected subjects, book your next holiday for you online and download a bedtime story for your child, complete with moving pictures. It will even be able to pay for goods when you shop via wireless electronic funds transfer. In short, the new mobile handset will become the single, indispensable “life tool”, carried everywhere by everyone, just like a wallet or purse is today.

Interestingly, every single detail of ITU’s 2000 3G-vision has now been realized now by DoCoMo in Japan.

Copyright·©1997-2013 ·Eurotechnology Japan KK·All Rights Reserved·