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Thanks to the growing prevalence of remote work, all three major Japanese mobile phone carriers saw their consolidated operating profits increase year on year in April-December 2020, according to their earnings reports.

The rosy results were backed by brisk earnings from services for corporate clients as more people worked from home due to the coronavirus, as well as robust non-telecommunications businesses, such as cashless payment services.

In the first three quarters of fiscal 2020, NTT Docomo Inc. logged an operating profit of ¥821.7 billion, up 4.3%, on revenue of ¥3.51 trillion, down 0.1%. KDDI Corp.’s operating profit rose by 3.2% to ¥871 billion and revenue rose by 0.5% to ¥3.92 trillion. At SoftBank Corp., operating profit was up 5.8% at ¥841.5 billion and revenue grew 5.2% to ¥3.8 trillion.

In fiscal 2021, however, the carriers’ revenue is expected to be pushed down by their new low-cost mobile phone services.

NTT Docomo said that its planned low-cost service will be launched on March 26. Its president, Motoyuki Ii, told a news conference on Friday that the number of applications for the new plan has topped 1 million, expressing his confidence in the success of the new service.

In December, the number of customers switching to NTT Docomo from rival mobile phone operators exceeded that of clients exiting the company for the first time in about 12 years, according to Ii.

Over the impacts of new service plans, SoftBank President Ken Miyauchi said that operating profit from the company’s telecommunications service for individual customers will decrease slightly.

Still, the three companies seek to secure growth in their respective overall operating profits partly by strengthening non-telecommunications operations.

“We are resolved to win the competition,” KDDI President Makoto Takahashi said.

According to a private-sector survey in which mobile phone users were asked to pick a new service plan they want to switch to, NTT Docomo’s ahamo ranked first, cited by 37.9% of the respondents, followed by KDDI’s povo, chosen by 30.5%, and SoftBank’s SoftBank on Line, selected by 25.7%.

The survey was conducted by Fukui-based communications service company All Connect.

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