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Drop In DoCoMo Subscribers May Be Traced To Number Portability

Japan finally approved local number portability for wireless subscribers in October, becoming one of the world's last nations to allow the measure. On Friday, the first results were announced and, in November, NTT DoCoMo lost subscribers for the first time since July 1992.

The firm - the largest cell phone service provider in Japan - said it lost 17,500 subscribers. Competitors KDDI Corp. gained a net 479,000 subscribers and Softbank Corp. added 68,700 customers.

Discounting number portability as a major cause of the loss in subscribers, a DoCoMo spokesman indicated the firm needed more handset models to attract new subscribers and keep existing ones.

In the U.S., local number portability was instituted in November of 2003; a year later, 8.5 million subscribers had taken advantage of the measure, according to FCC records.