Japan’s smallest operator eMobile overtook market leader NTT Docomo in net subscriber additions for the month of September, as the country’s largest mobile operator slipped to fourth place in terms of growth. According to Japan’s Telecommunications Carriers Association (TCA), eMobile added 88,200 subscribers last month (making it Japan’s third-fastest-growing operator), taking its total customer base to 1,897,700. This compares with Docomo’s additions of 66,000 (total:  55,186,500). Softbank – the country’s third-largest operator – was yet again the fastest-growing player with 108,000 new subscribers, whilst number two operator KDDI was also the country’s second-fastest grower (102,300 net additions for September). Japan ended the month with 109,633,800 total mobile subscribers, a 0.3 percent month-on-month growth rate.

The figures demonstrate impressive growth from newcomer eMobile as well as Docomo’s struggles to maintain its edge. Data-centric operator eMobile recently claimed a country first by launching HSPA+ services amid hopes to become profitable this year. Meanwhile Docomo has had to look abroad for growth, investing in a number of international operations as it attempts to hit a goal of achieving 10 percent of its sales from foreign ventures in a decade to compensate for slowing domestic success.