The number of subscriptions to NTT DoCoMo's 3G (third generation) cellular service hit the 20 million mark in late December, the Japanese carrier has reported.
Subscriptions more than doubled in 2005 thanks to the introduction of a wider range of handsets and also cheaper models. Initially targeted at high-end consumers, the service is now NTT DoCoMo's main offering and is where the carrier is concentrating the bulk of its marketing efforts.
NTT DoCoMo launched the service, which is marketed under the "Foma" brand name, in October 2001. It was the first commercial WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) service to launch worldwide and initially failed to attract a large number of subscribers because of complaints about network coverage and poor handsets.
After these problems were resolved, the carrier saw subscriber interest take off and it passed 10 million subscriptions in February 2005 and 15 million in August 2005.
NTT DoCoMo expects to have 23.5 million 3G subscriptions by the end of its current financial year on March 31.