April is emerging to be a milestone month in Japan’s 3G rollout. According to the most recent Telecom Carriers Association figures. Milestone One: Japan added a million new 3G subscribers in April. Milestone Two: April’s surge also simultaneously brought the total number of 3G users here to over 17.7 million. So what you say? Well, this also meant that for the first time Japan’s 3G user base passed 20% of Japan’s 82 million mobile subscriber base, or 21.6% to be precise, as of April 30! Milestone Three: DoCoMo added an incredible 530,500 FOMA subscribers. Not only was this up 483% on the same month a year ago, it was the FIRST TIME ever that DoCoMo beat KDDI au in net 3G adds!!
KDDI au didn’t do at all badly, adding a huge number which was a tad shy of half a million, this time 488,500 cdma 1x users in April. By contrast, this was actually down 31% year on year. But if this sounds like poor news, KDDI also passed a big milestone of its own. Last April’s haul means that 80% of total au subscribers are now 3G’d.
The surge by DoCoMo has everything to do with the great 900i models coming out, and frankly Wireless Watch Japan can’t wait for the next generation models armed with FeliCa. But, we should also strike a cautious note in that FOMA’s 3.6 million subscribers represent only a quarter of KDDI’s 14.1 cdma1x subscribers.
And again, KDDI au accounted for 59% of Japan’s total net adds, but the number of new subscribers in April was down 26% compared to the same month last year. DoCoMo gained 184,500 net subscribers, those numbers down 13% on last year, while Vodafone brought up the wooden phone with 24,600 net additions, down 88% on last year.
Now reach for more tissues if you’ve read our recent rave reviews of Vodafone’s new summer 2.5G/2G rollout. Vodafone actually saw a DECLINE of 2,000 Vodafone Live! subscribers in April.
And their 3G position stinks, still. April, according to the Telecommunications Carriers Association, saw only 13,700 3G subscribers in April. Perhaps even more depressingly, this was UP 41% on last year, which to put it bluntly, means that this year’s dismal performance to date is only under whelmed by last year’s insignificant 3G uptake.
– WWJ Editors.