• Staff report

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NTT DoCoMo Inc. officially confirmed its intention Monday to withdraw from the personal handy-phone system business and will begin turning away new customers at the end of April.

The company said, however, that actual termination of service is still at least two years away to give existing customers time to switch to other services.

PHS, basically a no-frills mobile phone, helped spread mobiles in the mid-1990s with its relatively affordable prices. But its subscriber base has been shrinking steadily, from 7 million in 1997 to just 4.5 million at the end of January.

DoCoMo said it would focus its resources on its high-speed third-generation network service, where it faces fierce competition from rival au, the brand run by KDDI Corp.

“PHS’s market condition is very severe,” DoCoMo President Masao Nakamura told a news conference.

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