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DoCoMo is hoping new handsets will encourage more of its customers to upgrade to 3G services. The company, which is the leading Japanese mobile outfit, has been playing second fiddle to KDDI which has managed to get far more of its customers to move to next-generation phones.

KDDI, with 21m customers, has 14m signed up to 3G while DoCoMo, with 45m customers, has only 3.8m 3G users. KDDI uses CDMA technology while DoCoMo has taken the European option with W-CDMA.

Vodafone Japan has also struggled to get subscribers - it has about 150,000. Vodafone results are out tomorow and attention will be focused on how many 3G customers it has. The move helps networks bring in more money because new services should increase ARPU - average revenue per user.

DoCoMo has ordered 6m handsets from Fujitsu, NEC and Panasonic, according to the Financial Times. It is aiming for 10.6m 3G customers by March.

DoCoMo will start offering unmetered mobile internet access from next month. The company has earmarked over $1bn in tariff cuts to help promote the new services.®

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