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NTT Docomo Inc. will begin marketing lower-priced smartphones later this year to promote its fifth-generation, or 5G, advanced wireless service, President and Chief Executive Officer Kazuhiro Yoshizawa said in an interview.

The Japanese wireless operator rolled out its 5G service in March. Currently, 5G-compatible smartphones handled by the company cost at least ¥100,000 per unit.

The company plans to release 5G models at nearly half the price of the existing ones, according to Yoshizawa.

The move is designed to help NTT Docomo achieve its goal of gaining 2.5 million individual subscribers to its 5G service in the current fiscal year ending in March 2021.

The company has some 170,000 such subscribers currently, Yoshizawa said, adding that the number is increasing steadily.

In April-May, there was a delay in NTT Docomo’s procurement of equipment used for the development of 5G base stations due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

But the procurement “returned to normal” in June, Yoshizawa said.

NTT Docomo will thus expand its 5G service areas to cover all of the country’s 20 ordinance-designated cities by the end of the current fiscal year, as planned.

Yoshizawa said the 4G service that rival Rakuten Inc. launched in April at ¥2,980 per month is “impressive.”

But he said NTT Docomo “won’t compete on price anytime soon.” Customers “don’t find value only in a price,” he said.

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