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NTT Docomo joins with Accenture in $4B Web3 tilt

NTT Docomo has set its sights on the emerging world of Web3, announcing a JV with Accenture to become a Web3 enabler.

The Japanese operator plans to spend 500-600 billion yen (US$3.4-$4.1 billion) over the next five to six years on the project.

"We consider it an investment in the next business growth area," NTT Docomo CEO Motoyuki Ii said in an earnings briefing Tuesday.

The new venture will be established next year, targeting functions such as blockchain wallet, crypto assets exchange and issue of tokens and security.

NTT Docomo's CEO hails Web3 the 'most impactful' new technology since the internet.
 (Source: NTT Docomo)
NTT Docomo's CEO hails Web3 the "most impactful" new technology since the internet.
(Source: NTT Docomo)

In a statement, NTT Docomo and Accenture say the new company will promote ESG issues, establish a secure technology platform and develop talent.

Web3 is a nascent set of technologies that supporters claim will enable a secure and decentralized web that will escape the dominance of today's internet giants.

Its critics, such as web pioneer Tim Berners-Lee and Elon Musk, fault its complexity and the grandiosity of its claims.

It's fair to say the Docomo boss is not one of these.

Ii described Web3 as "the most impactful technological development since the internet." He promised the partnership with Accenture would "revolutionize social infrastructure by utilizing blockchain and building a safe and secure Web3 environment."

Lack of home-grown talent

The Accenture deal follows an agreement with startup Astar Network on October 31 to develop "a project to solve social issues" using Web3 technologies.

Ii said Docomo is aiming at a global rollout of the business – partly to reach a global user base, but also partly because Japan lacks the tech talent, in particular in blockchain.

Without elaborating, the company said it also hopes to establish some de facto Web3 global standards.

Just a month ago Docomo unveiled a JPY60 billion ($409.9 million) bet on another hot new sector, the metaverse. It set up a new company, Qonoq, to lead its metaverse and XR services.

In contrast to the big expectations of Web3 and the metaverse, NTT Docomo's Q3 results show its legacy mobile business is still grappling with domestic price wars.

Both revenue and operating profit were flat, with mobile revenue down JPY50 billion ($341.6 million), or about 3% of total consumer sales, though this was partially offset by JPY26 billion ($177.6 million) in cost cuts.

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On the upside, three-fifths of its 16 million 5G users were now on medium or large data packages.

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— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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