Sachio Semmoto likes nothing more than seizing an opportunity when he spots it. Six years ago, the former electrical engineer thought he could crack open Japan’s fossilized telecom sector by connecting businesses to unused lines owned by NTT. Now, Semmoto is smelling opportunity again. On November 10, Japan’s communications ministry granted eAccess one of three new cellular licenses, opening the market to the country’s first new entrants in a dozen years.
The other licenses went to data transmission operator IPMobile and Softbank, which owns Japan’s biggest portal, Yahoo Japan. “We intend to revolutionize the mobile phone industry,” says Semmoto, chairman of eAccess.
Beginning in 2007, the company will offer service in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya at rates that he says will undercut today’s carriers substantially, but he declines to give details. Semmoto expects as many as 10 million subscribers to quickly sign up as he expands the network nationwide. Although he won’t give a precise timetable, he feels confident of winning over far more than the 2 million users the newcomers are required to have by March, 2011, under the terms of their licenses. Once eAccess and the others have 2.5 million subscribers, they can apply for more spectrum, which telecom execs say the companies will need to keep calls flowing smoothly. Continue.