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Softbank ranks top in net mobile subscription growth for fifth year

JIJI

Softbank Mobile Corp. ranked top in net mobile subscription growth in Japan for the fifth straight year in 2012, with its net increase coming to 3,486,700, the Telecommunications Carriers Association said Thursday.

The stellar performance by the Softbank Corp. unit was due to the popularity of Apple Inc.’s iPhone smartphones and iPad tablet computers.

KDDI Corp. came in second with net subscription growth of 2,519,300 as it handled the iPhone for the full year for the first time. It started to sell the Apple smartphones in October 2011.

The nation’s leading mobile carrier, NTT DoCoMo Inc., was third with a net increase of 1,363,700.

Although the firm launched its new smartphone models in spring and winter when demand notably grows, the popularity of the iPhone dented its subscription growth, an NTT DoCoMo official said. NTT DoCoMo does not handle the iPhone.

In December, KDDI and Softbank Mobile posted a net subscriber inflow of 102,400 and 30,900, respectively, under the mobile number portability system, which allows users to change carriers without changing their phone numbers. NTT DoCoMo suffered a net outflow of 132,100.

Mobile subscriptions at the end of 2012 came to 60,988,100 at DoCoMo, 36,817,200 at KDDI and 31,322,000 at Softbank Mobile.