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Monthly mobile phone subscriber data published by Japan's Telecommunications Carriers Association shows NTT DoCoMo (DCM) added 162,300 new subscribers in February to edge out rival KDDI, which netted 160,200, after its recently acquired Tu-ka brand lost 114,900 subs pulling down au by KDDI's net of 275,100 new subs. Vodafone (VOD) continued to struggle as it only managed to net 12,200 new subs. The word on the street is Softbank is considering a purchase of Vodafone Japan as it readies to make its entrance in the wireless arena having received government permission last year.

334,700 total subscribers were added in February to bring the nation wide total to 90,767,700, a 0.37% increase over January.

DoCoMo's market share remained unchanged at 55.8% while KDDI added 0.1% to 27.5% against Vodafone's loss of 0.1% to 16.7%.

2G subs declined for all carriers as 3G subs increased across the board with laggard Vodafone having the largest increase given it also has the lowest 3G subscriber base.

    • 43.5% of DoCoMo subs are 3G
    • 84.8% of KDDI subs are 3G
    • 18.1% of Vodafone subs are 3G

Although Vodafone was late with its 3G system, it now represents a huge opportunity since nearly 80% of its subscribers are still on 2G. Regardless if Softbank acquires Vodafone Japan or not, the question is whether current 2G subscribers will loyally migrate to 3G or jump ship for a rival carrier.

DCM 1-yr chart:


VOD 1-yr chart:


Source: DoCoMo Edges Out KDDI for Net New Subs Added in February (DCM, VOD)