2017 Japan - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses

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Last updated: 5 Jun 2017 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 65

Analyst: Phil Harpur

Publication Overview

This report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Japan’s telecommunications market. The report analyses the Telecoms Infrastructure, mobile, fixed broadband, Digital Media and Digital Economy sectors. Subjects include: 

  • Market and industry analyses, trends and developments;
  • Facts, figures and statistics;
  • Industry and regulatory issues;
  • Infrastructure;
  • Major players, revenues, subscribers, ARPU;
  • Broadband, VoIP, IPTV;
  • Mobile voice and data markets;
  • Broadband (FttH, DSL, wireless;
  • Digital Economy and Digital Media sectors eg e-Commerce and e-Payments;
  • Mobile and fixed broadband forecasts to 2021.

Researcher:- Phil Harpur
Current publication date:- June 2017 (23rd Edition)

Executive Summary

Japan mobile market moves towards 5G

Japan’s telecommunications sector is one of the most developed markets in the world. Japan’s telecoms market is characterised by customers possessing a willingness to adopt new technologies combined with an increasingly sophisticated interest in the wider application of telephone lines.

Moving towards 2017 Japan’s market is served by three multi-service operators offering fixed-line telephony, fixed broadband access, mobile voice telephony, mobile broadband access and pay TV services.

Japan’s fixed line market is dominated by incumbent operator NTT. However with a saturated fixed-line telephone subscriber market (on a per household basis), mobile has emerged as the major force in Japan’s telecoms market. The emphasis on mobile has allowed new market entrants to enter and grow in the market despite NTT’s dominance of the fixed market.

The number of broadband lines in Japan has shown stagnant growth in recent years due to the increasing availability and affordability of mobile broadband platforms. This has taken away much of the traffic due to the convenience associated with mobility and the ability to support delivery of popular internet content and applications. Moving into 2017, DSL subscribers continued to decline as customers continue to shift to FttH.

Moving into 2018 there were approximately 160 million mobile subscribers in Japan with the majority expected to be accessing services through LTE networks. Japan’s mobile market place remains an aggressive arena given the mature nature of the market. With few new subscriber acquisition opportunities operators are focused on acquiring subscribers from each other as well as satisfying and retaining existing ones.

Japan’s mobile market is dominated by three major operators – NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and Softbank Mobile, with the established order unlikely to be challenged anytime soon by another infrastructure operator. Compared with the past when voice was the main source of revenue, significant amounts of spectrum are required to offer competitive mobile broadband services at significant scale.

Data makes up the majority of ARPU although voice remains an important application. Overall ARPU is declining due to competition as well as Over-The-Top (OTT) product substitution for messaging and voice.

Operators are also increasing focus on higher value mobile content and applications to diversify revenue sources away from commoditised access services and also to improve customer retention.

There is severe price competition in the Japanese MVNO market, but the growth rate is still high. As such new MVNOs could enter the sector within the next five years.

Moving towards 2018 Japan possesses one of the most advanced and largest broadband markets in the world. Much of the success of broadband in Japan is owed to the stunning growth surge that occurred on the back of DSL broadband technology. Since then Japan has focused investment on FttH and on cable to a lesser extent. The faster speeds afforded by these technology platforms has seen both increase in popularity at the expense of DSL, with FttH representing almost two thirds of total fixed broadband subscriptions. Japan has also been an early adopter of triple-play models which provide TV, broadband internet and voice telephony as packaged services from a single provider.

Recognising the potential of applying ICT to improve both social and economic development, Japan has taken steps to develop a digital economy. Businesses, governments and private citizens have been instrumental in creating the online content and services that make up the digital economy.

Japan possesses a vibrant multichannel pay TV industry with services readily accessible across Japan via cable TV (CATV), satellite, IPTV and Over-the-top (OTT) Video-on-Demand (VoD). Total pay TV subscriptions are steadily growing with penetration household penetration levels lower than that of the UK or USA, indicating room for potential growth.

What is interesting to note is that although Japan has the necessary physical infrastructure to support OTT VoD, pure OTT players have not found much success as Japanese broadcasters, as the largest Japanese content producers, have traditionally been reluctant to release content to the OTT players believing it will cannibalize advertising revenue.

Key developments:

  • KDDI acquired Japanese fixed broadband provider BIGLOBE.
  • Softbank Telecom partnered with Alibaba Group to co-develop public cloud computing services.
  • NTT Corp announced plans to collaborate on the development of next generation 5G wireless technologies
  • Operators are focusing CAPEX on LTE, with operators expected to eventually cease investing in 3G;
  • WiFi investments are being made to alleviate 3G/4G network congestion by offloading traffic;
  • NTT DOCOMO’s LTE-A networks is being developed to support speeds of up to 1Gbps.
  • Softbank Mobile selected Ericsson to deploy its Radio Dot System in Japan over the next two years to 2019,
  • Continued decline in DSL subscriptions, down to under 10% of the total fixed broadband market;
  • FttX subscriptions comprise the majority of the fixed broadband market;
  • Implementation of strong government policies over a decade see over 90% of households with access to FttX;
  • Strong growth in WiMAX
  • Japan’s is well positioned to showcase the benefits of e-health given its demography and market characteristics.

Companies mentioned in this report:

NTT; KDDI; Softbank Mobile, Internet Initiative Japan, eAccess, eMobile; Willcom.

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