Japan's 3G network is taking a pounding from porn-hungry users, who are eagerly slurping up capacity to the point that service providers have been obliged to impose limits on abusers of "unlimited" net access packages.
According to Bloomberg, DoCoMo and KDDI Corp are feeling the heat, especially around midnight when “heavy users” spikes slow the $74bn network. A typical customer is 32-year-old Tokyo travel agent Takeshi, who coughs ¥6,300($66) a month for an unlimited deal, "allowing him to download adult movies on his mobile phone".
He said: “A mobile is far handier than a computer for internet access - I seldom use a PC outside the office."
Around 91 million of Takeshi's fellow citizens now surf via the 3G network, and Japan's online pornography business is growing at a rate of up to 1,000 new customers a day on the biggest sites, with some punters coughing ¥10,000 ($105) to sign up.
One such smutmonger, Soft On Demand, has seen revenues from its mobile site leap 40 per cent in the year to March 2009 to around ¥15m ($157,392) per month.
Hirotaka Ishimori, head of the company’s online division, said: “We see the mobile phone as potentially a huge market. Fixed-rate data plans, faster Internet access and sophisticated handsets are contributing to that growth.”
The bottom line is that Japan's 3G providers will have to tackle the porn capacity menace, as customers increasingly enjoy the full benefits of the network. Yusuke Tsunoda, a telecoms analyst at Tokai Tokyo Securities Co, concluded: “Pornography will eventually open a debate about how carriers should modify their business model as data traffic swells. It may prompt even tighter access restrictions.”
Bloomberg has more details on Japan's creaking 3G network here. ®