"Japan's major telecom carriers announced their account settlements for fiscal 1999.
"These announcements revealed that Japan's mobile telephone market hit the 5 trillion yen level (about US$46 billion at 108.38 yen = US$1). And the fixed-line telephone market shrank, although it maintained a market size of 5 trillion yen. The data communications market, though a small share, enjoyed a high growth rate of as high as 60 percent a year. The overall change of note is the diffusion of mobile Internet services.
"... The increase in ISDN users is supported by demand for data communications. Such demand is also seen in the mobile environment.
"This trend was particularly remarkable in fiscal 1999. The Internet services for mobile phones (mobile Internet) spread rapidly, triggered by NTT DoCoMo Inc.'s "i-mode" service.
"With the i-mode service launched in February 1999 as a newcomer to the mobile Internet market, competitors began to offer similar services in rapid succession. As of the end of May 2000, 105.67 million users received the mobile Internet service. The i-mode service accounted for 67 percent of the total services.
"The i-mode popularity proved in the figures of NTT DoCoMo's Fiscal 1999 annual report. The company's revenue generated from packet data communication services recorded 38.5 billion yen in the consolidated financial statement. A large part of the income came from the i-mode (36.7 billion yen). In fiscal 1998, the revenue from the packet communications service was only 200 million yen.
"The amount of 36.7 billion yen, however, does not even account for one percent of NTT DoCoMo's consolidated revenues of 3,718.6 billion yen. But, the data communications market is highly likely to grow at a very fast rate in the future with the debut of IMT-2000, a next-generation mobile communications system. The IMT-2000 service will be launched in 2001, giving users high-speed data communications at 384kbps. The speed will be upgraded to a maximum of 2Mbps in the future, driving large-volume data such as pictures.