Japan - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Last updated: 20 Jul 2021 Update History

Report Pages: 161

Analyst: Sebastien De Rosbo

Japan’s 2021 tax reform aimed at encouraging digital transformation

Although Japan has one of the best developed telecom markets globally, the fixed-line segment remains stagnant and the focus for growth is in the mobile sector During the last few years, the MNOs have shifted their investment from LTE to 5G, and growth in 5G showed early promise although there have been recent setbacks. These have partly been attributed to the economic difficulties, the impact of restrictions imposed during the pandemic, and unfavourable investment climate (not helped by the delay of the Tokyo Olympics from 2020 to 2021), and to restrictions in the supply of 5G-enabled devices.

The fixed broadband market is dominated by fibre, with a strong cable platform also evident. Fibre will continue to increase its share of the fixed broadband market, largely at the expense of DSL.

The mobile market is dominated by three MNOs (NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, and SoftBank Mobile), while Rakuten Mobile also has a presence. The company is building out its network, and while it is focussed of providing 5G services in the major metro areas it relies on roaming agreements to offer services elsewhere.

Mobile broadband subscriber growth is expected to be relatively low over the next five years, partly due to the high existing penetration though growth has been stimulated by measures which have encouraged people to school and work from home. There has also been a boost in accessing entertainment via mobile devices since 2020.

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. 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

  • Tax reform aimed at funding rural 5G networks;
  • NTT DoCoMo becomes wholly owned by NTT Corp, plans to provide 55% population coverage with 5G by March 2022 and nationwide 5G coverage by 2023;
  • FttP continues to gain market share in fixed broadband segment as DSL is phased out;
  • Report update includes telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, telcos operating and financial data to Q1 2021, 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, Rakuten, IIJ; JCI; Line Mobile

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