Popularity of ADSL in Japan leading to less calls

The fast-rising number of computer users connecting to the Internet via DSL (digital subscriber line) connections in place of dial-up telephone lines is leading to a sharp drop in the number of telephone calls being made in Japan.

In the most recent fiscal year, the period from April 2001 to March 2002, the total number of calls made dropped 17 per cent as ADSL (Asynchronous DSL) subscriptions soared from 71,000 to 2.4 million over the same period last year. Looking just at the local call market, the drop is even more dramatic at 34 per cent, according to figures detailed this week by Japan’s Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications (MPHPT).

The drop in the number of calls, to around 110 billion, reflected levels not seen since fiscal year 1996. In terms of the duration of calls, a drop from over 6 billion hours to around 5.5 billion hours returns the industry to levels last seen in fiscal year 1999.

NTT East Corp., the local carrier for all of eastern Japan, said it saw the number of calls drop 15.7 per cent during the previous year and the total length of calls fall by 21.1 per cent. The difference can be attributed to dial-up calls for Internet access being longer on average than voice calls.

The trend is set to continue as the number of broadband subscribers increases, according to ministry projections based on data from telecommunications carriers. The total number of broadband subscribers in Japan recently passed the 5 million mark.