NTT DoCoMo has confirmed it's preparing to follow its competitors in cutting mobile data prices as a government campaign for lower charges gathers steam.
SoftBank and KDDI both announced reductions in mobile data prices on Wednesday, a day after the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) unveiled plans to drive down charges.
DoCoMo CEO Kazuhiro Yoshizawa told an earnings call Thursday that the market leader was "looking into how to respond" to the government's demand for price cuts.
"However, when it comes to rate plans there are many different options that we could take," he said. "Nothing is decided at this point."
According to a study by the MIC, Japan's data charges for big mobile data bundles are up to three times higher than rates in comparable international markets.
But analysts note that while DoCoMo's competitors have responded quickly, few customers will feel the benefit. The price cuts are limited to their sub-brands, SoftBank's Y! Mobile and KDDI's UQ, each of which accounts for less than a fifth of their respective subscriber base.
For NTT DoCoMo's part, Yoshizawa said it had no immediate plans to launch a DoCoMo sub-brand but was weighing "various options."
In one of its last results announcements before being fully reabsorbed into the NTT Group, DoCoMo reported it had made up for a fall in mobile revenue with demand for digital services and tighter cost control.
First-half operating revenue fell 2.0% to 2.28 trillion yen (US$21.9 billion), but net income rose 5.1% to 391 billion yen.
Yoshizawa attributed the 5.8% decline in telecom revenue to higher customer returns and the loss of roaming revenue.
It is too early for its six-months-old 5G service to make an impact, but the company is confident it can reach its full-year target of 2.5 million 5G subs by March.
It has experienced a growth spurt since the iPhone 12 launch, with 120,000 new subs this month, up from 380,000 at the end of September, Yoshizawa said.
In contrast to the flat telecom business, the digital services unit once again posted healthy gains.
The Smart Life content, financial and other services grew sales 14% and operating profit by 38%. The group accounts for nearly a quarter of all revenue.
— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading