Japan Telecoms Market Report

Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Publication Date: May 2024

Report Pages: 199

Japan’s MNOs step up 5G deployments

Japan has one of the most modern telecom markets globally, with a particularly strong fibre broadband sector. Compared to many other countries in Europe and Asia, the country was slow to take advantage of LTE, relying for a greater length of time on legacy 3G networks and incremental technology upgrades. The government learned from this, and has been keen to promote 5G as a means to ensure that the country takes full advantage of its possibilities in terms of social inclusion and economic development. To this end, additional spectrum has been made available for 5G use, while MNOs have been offered subsidies to ensure that the platform is available in outlying areas which may otherwise be commercially unfavourable. Into 2023, the investment climate for MNOs has improved, while difficulties associated with the pandemic and supply constraints on related hardware have abated.

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). Rakuten Mobile also has a market presence, though the company continues to struggle with attracting subscribers, while its financial position remains precarious. 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. Rakuten Mobile may benefit from a streamlined mobile number portability process, which came into effect in May 2023.

Mobile broadband subscriber growth is expected to be relatively low over the next five years, partly due to the high existing penetration.

Key Developments

  • KDDI using Starlink’s satellite service to provide backhaul for its 5G network covering 1,200 locations in mountainous and remote island regions.
  • NTT contracts Fujitsu to provide its 1FINITY Ultra transport platform for NTT’s new core network to be built in 2024.
  • KDDI raises its stake in IIJ to 10.9%, with plans to develop additional services.
  • FttP continues to gain market share in fixed broadband segment as DSL is phased out.
  • Amended MNP process comes into effect.
  • Report update includes telcos operating and financial data to fiscal 2023, the regulator’s market updates for 2022, updated Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, and 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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