TOYKO — Mobile porn is booming in Japan, but it's also overtaxing the delivery systems of 3G Networks.
According to Bloomberg, users with "unlimited access" plans are putting the crunch on service providers such as DoCoMo and KDDI, which are considering caps, even with those devour-all-you-want deals. The bandwidth use is said to spike around midnight, most days.
Bloomberg said typical customers include Takeshi, a 32-year-old Tokyo travel agent who pays 6,300 yen($66) monthly to download as much adult content as he wants on his mobile phone, saying it's "far handier" and admitting he rarely uses a PC now outside his office.
Some 91 million Japanese are said to access the Web via 3G networks, while the online adult industry overall is seeing massive growth — up to 1,000 new customers daily on the largest sites, some of which charge 10,000 yen ($105) per month, reports The Register.
Those sites include Soft On Demand, which features free movie samples and DVDs, its monthly mobile revenue jumping some 40 per cent in the past year, to roughly 15 million yen ($157,392).
"We see the mobile phone as potentially a huge market," said Hirotaka Ishimori, head of the company’s online division. "Fixed-rate data plans, faster Internet access and sophisticated handsets are contributing to that growth.”
Also seeing marked growth is Tokyo-based Digital Media Mart, which runs an online portal for entertainment company Hokuto and offers two-minute video clips and also sells full-length movies. Head of mobile sales Hiroshi Tojo called the mobile porn market in Japan “still relatively untouched."
However, with the mobile porn boom and users taxing network capacity, some telecom analysts in Japan suggest restrictions could be put into place as overall Web traffic snarls and slows like rush hour in downtown L.A. or on the New Jersey Turnpike.
"When you have unlimited data, you're going to have an issue with capacity — it’s an issue that’s been waiting to happen," said Windsor Holden of Juniper Research, which offers free and paid research on the mobile market and frequently makes forecasts regarding growth in adult mobile globally. Juniper has suggested worldwide revenue from porn on mobile devices will more than double to $4.9 billion by 2013.
Japan's the third-largest network, Softbank Corp., which handles Apple iPhone service in the country, confirmed its looking at restrictions placed on unlimited data plans.
Japan launched 3G services in 2001, two years before the U.S. According to Juniper, mobile Internet use in Japan is currently three times that of the U.S. Juniper's Holden told Bloomberg that it's likely Japan could become the first nation to impose mobile use caps.
"It wouldn’t surprise me that it happens in Japan first because they’ve had 3G for so much longer," he said.