||It has been suggested that this article be merged with Y!Mobile. (Discuss) Proposed since August 2014.|
|Headquarters||Shiodome-building 1-9-1 Higashi-shinbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan|
WILLCOM Inc. (株式会社ウィルコム Kabushiki-gaisha Wirukomu?) was a Japanese PHS operator, offering flat-rate wireless network data transmission and flat-rate voice calls for its subscribers, until 2014 when it merged with eAccess to form Y!Mobile.
The company was formerly known as DDI Pocket, a subsidiary of KDDI. In 2004, the Carlyle Group acquired a majority stake from KDDI and changed the name of the company in February 2005. In 2010 SoftBank purchased 100% of the company.
Willcom, Inc. is a telecommunications company operating a PHS network covering almost all of Japan, and has the largest share of the Japanese PHS market. As other PHS operators are withdrawing their services, it is bound to become the only remaining PHS operator.
The number of its subscribers passed four million on May 29, 2006.
Willcom Okinawa Co., Ltd. is a subsidiary for operations in Okinawa.
The company was founded as a planning-company in 1994, and started to offer telephony services in 1995 under the brand DDI-Pocket. As an operator, it has mainly base stations of 500mW-radio output, unlike other PHS operators, which had mainly built 20 mW base stations.
The high output level caused some radio interference and it was difficult to place calls in dense areas such as Shinjuku, Tokyo during the network's early days, although these problems were eventually solved. On the other hand, high output (and sensitivity) can also earn wider coverage of area per base station, therefore the operator was able to expand its coverage faster than the competition. The market between PHS operators and cellular telephony companies was incredibly fierce, and until October 1996 it was not possible to make calls between PHS and cellular telephones. Even then, charges for calls between the two different systems were high.
PHS became popular because of its lower cost, causing cellular telephone companies to reduce their rates, which were initially considered too expensive. Furthermore, the coverage of the cellular companies quickly expanded to comparable levels. With the competitive advantage of PHS reduced, DDI-Pocket went through difficult years at the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s. The declining market for PHS service has caused the launch of its flat-rate service and its buyout by Carlyle.
On February 18, 2010, Willcom filed for bankruptcy with 206 billion yen in liabilities. This took place after Willcom was unable to reschedule its debt payments; the company had been losing subscribers to competing networks with greater data speeds.
- "SoftBank Annual Report 2011" (PDF). SoftBank. Retrieved 2012-06-13.
- Yoshinori Eki and Pavel Alpeyev (February 18, 2010). "Willcom Files for Bankruptcy Protection in Japan (Update3)". Bloomberg BusinessWeek.
- "Completion of Company Split and Increase and Decrease of Capital, etc. of WILLCOM, Inc.". SoftBank. 2010-12-21. Retrieved 2012-06-13.