NTT Docomo slashes 3G capex

'No time for recklessness'

NTT Docomo is taking an axe to capital expenditure in 2003, following disappointing take-up of its FOMA 3G service.

"Reckless spending on network expansion won't help promote" such services, DoCoMo CEO Keiji Tachikawa told Bloomberg. "We'd better focus more on returns on investment."

In its next financial year starting April, the Japanese firm will spend around 800bn yen on its 3G network infrastructure($6.9bn), c.11 per cent down on this year's 891bn yen

NTT Docomo is the world's second biggest mobile phone operator, ranked only behind Vodafone. Its DoCoMO services are held up regularly as the great success for 2G content. However, the Japanese firm has singularly failed to transfer this success to 3G, upgrading only 4 in every 100 subscribers to date for FOMA, according to Strand Consulting. In Japan, where it is trailing behind KDDI's 3G service, FOMA is poorly regarded, apparently.

Getting better phones, or at least phones with half-way decent battery life and which don't drop calls in 2G-3G handovers, and working up better content partnerships, would appear to be rather most cost-effective than erecting more masts and buying in more base stations. In the short-term, at least. ®

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