Boosted by the soaring number of mobile phone users, cellular operator NTT DoCoMo Inc. announced Wednesday that it posted consolidated sales of 3.72 trillion yen for fiscal 1999, which ended in March, up 19.3 percent from the previous year.

The cellular giant also saw an increase in its already huge profits. The company’s operating profits came to 545.76 billion yen, up 7.3 percent, its pretax profits stood at 503.12 billion yen, up 43.6 percent and net profits totaled 252.14 billion yen, up 23.1 percent.

In particular, NTT DoCoMo President Keiji Tachikawa attributed the firm’s strong performance to the popularity of its i-mode service, an Internet-browsing service offered on DoCoMo’s smart mobile phones.

“I expect sales to exceed 4 trillion yen for fiscal 2000,” Tachikawa said at a press conference Wednesday.

As of the end of March, the DoCoMo group had 29.36 million cellular subscribers, up 22.8 percent from the previous year. Some 5.6 million also subscribed to the i-mode service.

Tachikawa, however, expects the cellular market to become saturated in fiscal 2000.

The subscription growth rate will slow down and the company only expects to add another 4 million subscribers in fiscal 2000, or about 70 percent of the new subscribers in fiscal 1999, Tachikawa said.

For fiscal 2000, sales are projected at 4.15 trillion yen, pretax profits at 574 billion yen and net profits at 309 billion yen, according to Tachikawa.

Debugged i-mode

Cellular operating giant NTT DoCoMo Inc. announced Wednesday that it has completed debugging software and improving hardware systems for its i-mode Internet browsing service, and plans to resume sales promotions on Friday.

The i-mode service — a key to the firm’s next-generation smart cellular services aspirations — was repeatedly disrupted in March and April.

Since April 20, NTT DoCoMo has suspended all ads promoting the i-mode service and halved shipments of i-mode-compatible mobile phones.

The company will resume ad campaigns Friday and will stop limiting shipments on June 1. On the same day, it will release three new phone models compatible with the i-mode service, the company said.

NTT DoCoMo will increase the system’s capacity from 8 million to 10 million subscribers by the end of May, and it will be further increased to 14 million by the end of June, DoCoMo officials said.