NTT DoCoMo's 3G service hits one million users

Subscriptions to NTT DoCoMo's Foma 3G mobile telephone network has hit the one million mark.

Subscriptions to NTT DoCoMo's Foma 3G mobile telephone network has hit the one million mark.

The landmark comes after several months of strong growth for the service, which, at first, failed to attract the attention of many users.

At the end of February, after 17 months of service, Foma had attracted a total of 191,500 subscribers, according to figures from the Telecommunication Carriers Association (TCA).

At the beginning of this year however, subscriptions began to take off after several handsets were launched that tackled some of the biggest complaints users had with the original terminals, such as their large size and short battery life.

NTT DoCoMo announced 329,000 subscribers at the end of March, just above the long-held target.

Since then, subscriptions have continued to climb, hitting half a million users in mid-June and increasing by more than 200,000 subscribers in September to reach the one million mark on the final day of the month, after exactly two years of commercial service.

Reaching a million subscribers, however, does not make Foma the most popular 3G service in the world.

South Korean operators offer 3G services based on CDMA2000 1x EvDO (Evolution Data Only) technology, and market leader SK Telecom had around 1.8 million subscribers with 3G handsets on its network at the end of September, according to Kwon Chul Kuen, a company spokesman.

Third-generation services based on WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) have also been launched in several European countries and in Japan by Vodafone.

Japan will get its third 3G network when KDDI launches its network later this year as an upgrade to its existing network based on CDMA2000 1x technology.

Verizon Wireless will also launch a 3G service in the Washington DC and San Diego metropolitan areas, based on the same technology in use in South Korea.

Martyn Williams writes for IDG News Service

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