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Japan - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Last updated: 28 May 2020 Update History

Report Pages: 145

Analyst: Sebastien De Rosbo

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;
  • Regional market comparisons
  • Telecoms Maturity Index
  • Data centres and smart Infrastructure;
  • Major players, revenues, subscribers, ARPU;
  • Broadband (FTTH, DSL);
  • Internet of Things, 5G developments
  • Mobile, broadband and mobile broadband forecasts to 2023-4.

Executive Summary

Japan’s four MNOs all launch 5G

Japan’s telecommunications sector is one of the most developed markets in the world.

Fixed line growth in Japan has been stagnant over the past five years. This trend is predicted to continue over the next five years to 2024.

The fixed broadband market is supported largely by two technology platforms: cable TV (CATV) and FttP, with the latter more prominent.

Japan has a strong presence as a regional Asian data centre provider and is a global financial and corporate hub and one of the fastest evolving digital markets in the world. Data centre locations have easy access to high-speed international connectivity, with landing points for several submarine cables that connect with the western United States. Japan’s digital economy is highly mature and difficult to serve from overseas or alternative locations. Japan has now evolved into more of an international data centre market driven by the global hyperscale cloud providers expanding in the Tokyo and Osaka markets.

Japan possesses a large and vibrant television industry due to its unique culture and market size. Legislation enacted to restrict ownership has led to a plethora of broadcasters. Japan’s vertically integrated broadcasting industry means broadcasters create as well as distribute content.

Japan possesses one of the most advanced and largest broadband markets in the world. 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. Fixed-line broadband market penetration has grown slowly over the past five years in a highly mature market.

Moving further into 2020, FttP will continue to increase its share of total fixed broadband subscriptions at the expense of DSL. This is expected to accelerate as the few remaining DSL users are encouraged to migrate off the remaining DSL. Over the next five years to 2024 fixed broadband growth is expected to continue to increase slowly.

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.

Mobile subscriber growth is expected to be relatively low over the next five years to 2024 due to a highly mature and highly competitive market. The market will be driven by the uptake of both 4G LTE and 5G services.

Japan’s mobile market is dominated by three major operators – NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and Softbank Mobile. However, the Japanese government was looking to open its mobile market up to new players for 5G services. This could result the entry of new players, even those from outside the traditional telecoms space, and potential foreign players, including those looking to target the IoT, VR and automotive applications. Japan’s largest e-commerce company is working on plans to build its own nationwide 4G mobile network with an intended launch later in 2020.

Mobile broadband subscriber growth is expected to be relatively low over the next five years to 2024 due to a highly mature mobile subscriber market, with the vast majority of subscribers already having wireless broadband access.

The four carriers have all launched 5G services, with DoCoMo targeting nationwide coverage by 2023. The anticipated surge in interest for IoT and related technologies such as driverless cars is expected to help fuel a boom in spending.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) is preparing to embark on R&D work in Japan to explore a new telecoms standard that will eventually succeed 5G technology.

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 is having a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.

On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.

Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.

The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.

Key Developments

  • Government considers telecom tax to fund rural 5G networks;
  • Three carriers plan 5G services launch by end-2020;
  • DOCOMO targets nationwide 5G coverage by 2023;
  • FttP continues to gain market share in fixed broadband segment as DSL is phased out;
  • Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) trials start;
  • Report update includes telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, assessment of the global impact of COVID-19 on the telecoms sector, recent market developments.

Key companies mentioned in this report:

NTT; KDDI; Softbank Mobile, Internet Initiative Japan, eAccess, eMobile, Ratuken, IIJ; JCI; Line Mobile

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