Business

End of Tu-Ka gives KDDI first drop in customers

Bloomberg

KDDI Corp., Japan’s second-largest mobile phone company, lost customers for the first time after phasing out the slower of its two services in March, the company said Friday.

KDDI lost a net 118,700 subscribers in April, the Tokyo-based carrier said in a statement. That’s the first decline since it was set up in October 2000 and exceeds the loss of 100,000 users KDDI Chief Financial Officer Satoshi Nagao forecast in an interview earlier this week.

The company said it lost 234,100 subscribers from its slower Tu-Ka service, which was discontinued in March. Subscribers to its high-speed au service rose by 115,400 to a total 30.34 million.

KDDI forecast a record profit this year as it focuses on the au service and promotes new semiconductors and software to help cut the development costs of handsets.

The carrier also aims to narrow Softbank Corp.’s lead in user gains by offering new phones and plans that allow free calls for family and corporate clients.

Market leader NTT DoCoMo Inc. added 96,000 new users in April, bringing its total to 53.5 million. Softbank, Japan’s third-biggest operator, maintained its lead for a 12th month, adding 192,900 users for a total of 18.8 million. The Tokyo-based companies announced the results in separate releases.

KDDI’s subscriber decline is a “one-off event” and gains will return in the following months, Nagao said in the interview. The impact on profit will be “very small,” because many customers with the slower Tu-Ka service had prepaid for calls, he said.

KDDI last month forecast net income will rise 15 percent to ¥250 billion in the current year.

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