68% of households now have mobile phones

Nearly 68 percent of Japanese households have either cellular phones or personal handy-phone systems, according to a recent government survey.

As of November, households with either cell or PHS phones came to 67.8 percent, up 5.5 percentage points from the previous year, the survey by the Posts and Telecommunications Ministry said.

Ministry officials said the surge in portable phones was due partly to NTT DoCoMo Inc.’s i-mode service, which lets users send e-mail and surf the Internet. They also cited improved sound quality.

Households with cellular phones but no PHS phones came to 56.3 percent, up 7.1 points. Those that only had PHS handsets came to 3.6 percent, down 1 point.

Households that had both accounted for 7.9 percent of respondents, down 0.6 point, the ministry said.

The survey did not take into account whether respondents had fixed-line telephones.

“The planned introduction of next-generation, (higher performance) mobile phones next spring may fuel the momentum of increasing mobile phone use, so we expect that every Japanese citizen will possess a mobile phone by the end of 2002,” a ministry official said.

Another poll by the ministry found that as of November, 78.3 percent of Japanese companies were using the Internet in some form for business. The number represents an increase of 14.6 points over the previous year.

The poll also showed that 25.4 percent of Japanese companies are going online to drum up sales.

But firms that allow customers to pay for goods and services via the Web came to only 1 percent, according to the poll.

Both surveys were conducted in November. The poll on mobiles included 3,700 responding households nationwide. About 2,000 companies responded to the survey.