Softbank Corp. (9984), Japan’s third- largest mobile-phone company, will increase equipment spending by 100 billion yen ($1.2 billion) after receiving a new spectrum license allowing it to expand data capacity.
Total spending for the three years ending March 2014 will rise to 1.55 trillion yen, the Tokyo-based company said today in a statement. Softbank plans to start offering services using the new 900-megahertz spectrum on July 25, it said.
Japanese mobile-phone companies are spending more to raise capacity as a growing number of subscribers use phones to download or stream video and music. A panel of the nation’s communications ministry yesterday picked Softbank over larger rivals NTT DoCoMo Inc. (9437) and KDDI Corp. (9433) to use the 900-megahertz spectrum, which became available after Japan introduced digital broadcasting last year, freeing up radio bands used by the previous analog television transmission system.
“We’re finally on a level playing field to compete,” Softbank President Masayoshi Son said at a press conference in Tokyo today. DoCoMo and KDDI already have so-called “platinum bands” allowing better data transmission, he said.
Softbank had a 22 percent share of mobile-phone subscriptions in Japan in January, trailing DoCoMo’s 47 percent and KDDI’s 27 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Softbank, the first carrier to sell Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPhone in Japan, formally received the certificate for the band from the communications ministry today. DoCoMo, KDDI and eAccess Ltd. also applied for the license, according to regulators.
The government will allocate the 700-megahertz spectrum, the other newly available band, later this year to three companies, the ministry said yesterday. DoCoMo and eAccess have said they aim to add the band.
More than half of Japan’s wireless-service subscribers will use smartphones by March 2015, Tokyo-based MM Research Institute Ltd. forecast in July. Smartphone users made up 8.8 percent of a total of 109 million accounts in March last year, the researcher said.
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