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DoCoMo under domestic pressure

Leading Japanese mobile operator NTT DoCoMo is feeling the heat from mobile number portability and increased competition after signing up the smallest number of subscribers over the month of December.

In terms of net additions, DoCoMo was beaten flat out by second placed KDDI, which signed up 297,500 customers in December. Even the country’s smallest operator, Softbank Mobile, signed up 97,000 new users, compared to DoCoMo’s net additions of 87,600.

However, DoCoMo has recovered slightly after its performance in November, when it recorded its first ever reduction in subscribers, losing 17,500 over the month.

Research published by Analysys last week suggests that mobile number portability (MNP) has not been the anticipated success it was meant to be because of flawed implementation.

The analyst identifies the barriers to customer adoption of portability as high charges for porting a number, long delays before porting takes place, limitations to data services after number porting and sheer lack of awareness that MNP is available.

In Japan, which only introduced MNP in October, Softbank launched a price assault by undercutting the tariffs of its rivals. The move worked a little too well and Softbank’s first foray into MNP was derailed due to overwhelming demand.

But Analysys warns that contrary to popular belief, MNP does not necessarily increase long term churn or cause price competition, although it can be a major benefit to mobile operators if implemented well and some have achieved significant market share growth by embracing it.

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