NTT Docomo CEO Motoyuki Ii predicted mobile ARPU would continue to decline in the current fiscal year (ending 31 March), with a recovery not coming until the next.

In late calendar 2022, Docomo forecast an ARPU turnaround by end-March 2023. On an earnings call, Ii noted a recovery in voice had been slow after the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

He highlighted a year-on-year increase in operating profit in fiscal Q3 2023 (the period to end-December 2023), driven by growth in consumer and enterprise businesses which outweighed a decline in the Smart life segment.

The operator added 9 million 5G subscribers from the end of calendar 2022 to take the count to 27.2 million at the end of calendar 2023, accounting for 30.5 per cent of its total, which rose 3 per cent to 89.2 million.

Net profit in fiscal Q3 was flat at JPY223.1 billion ($1.5 billion) and operating revenue rose 3.1 per cent to JPY1.6 trillion.

Mobile service revenue fell 2.3 per cent to JPY638.1 billion, with ARPU declining at a similar rate to JPY3,990.

Equipment sales grew 35.3 per cent to JPY237.5 billion.

Its enterprise business grew 4.1 per cent to JPY469.3 billion and Smart Life sales 2.7 per cent to JPY274.9 billion.

Capex in the first nine months of the fiscal year declined 6.7 per cent to JPY418.5 billion.