NTT DoCoMo claims it has now reached the 10 million subscriber mark in Japan for its 3G mobile phone service.
Unlike other countries in Europe that have launched 3G services over the past 12 to 18 months, the NTT service is available in almost every part of the country.
But it has taken NTT since October 2001 to reach the 10 million mark after initially launching the service in Tokyo and other large cities.
At the time, however, many of its existing subscribers were using NTT's 2G i-mode service, which worked much faster and offered more content than the European WAP equivalent, so there was less of a rush for NTT to go for a big bang 3G roll-out.
DoCoMo attributes recent rapid 3G subscriber growth to its expanding range of 3G handsets and increased demand for videophone communication, which demands the data access "head-room" that 3G provides.
Subscriptions have also been stimulated by flat-rate payment plans which offer low-cost access to i-mode 3G services.
Unlike in Europe, NTT's service is also available on Japanese underground rail networks.