Porn Downloads Putting Squeeze on Japan’s Phone Network

Jul 6, 2009 4:15 PM PST
TOKYO — Japanese telecoms NTT DoCoMo and KDDI Corp. have started imposing bandwidth restrictions on their 3G wireless networks, due largely to the popularity of downloading porn on cellphones.

Data traffic is swelling so much that even the Japanese operator of Apple Inc.’s iPhone service said it too is also weighing caps on users with unlimited data plans.

Japan's largest carriers are finding that the hunger for porn is insatiable, particularly after midnight when traffic spikes on the $74 billion network Japan built in 2001. The telecoms report most users land on about eight adult entertainment sites each month, with a typical visit lasting only 11.6 minutes.

“We can’t see customers’ data but can surmise the biggest portion of it is probably movies,” KDDI spokesman Keiichi Sakurai told Bloomberg Business News. “We can’t deny the possibility those movies include adult content.”

With a mobile porn market still relatively untouched, adult production companies (Japan has more than 1,000 studios churning out 17,000 titles last year) have set their sights on trying to exploit their brands. And it’s no wonder because, according to research firm Juniper, global revenue from pornography on mobile devices will more than double to $4.9 billion in the five years to 2013.

“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, principal analyst for Juniper. “It wouldn’t surprise me that it happens in Japan first because they’ve had 3G for so much longer [than the U.S.].

“Whenever there is a new distribution method for adult content, adult content will go that medium,” Holden said. “It’s gone that way since cavemen drew adult pictures in the cave.”

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