• The Associated Press

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Japan’s largest mobile phone service operator, NTT DoCoMo Inc., said Friday profit dipped 17 percent in the most recent quarter as sluggish phone sales and higher costs offset modest growth in its mobile services.

Net income fell to 146.3 billion yen in the July-September period, the company’s fiscal second quarter, compared with 177.4 billion yen a year earlier, the Tokyo-based carrier said.

Sales fell 1.8 percent to 1.16 trillion yen from 1.19 trillion yen, while operating profit fell 9.8 percent to 244.2 billion yen from 270.8 billion yen.

Industry leader NTT DoCoMo has been struggling to keep customers in Japan’s cutthroat cell phone market while dealing with the massive costs of developing new mobile technologies.

This week’s arrival of number portability is expected to further intensify the competition.

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