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This article was published on February 19, 2010

    Willcom, Japan’s Fourth Largest Mobile Operator, Files For Bankruptcy

    Willcom, Japan’s Fourth Largest Mobile Operator, Files For Bankruptcy
    Kevin Korpi
    Story by

    Kevin Korpi

    Based in Saitama, Japan but often found attending tech events in Tokyo. Enjoys playing video games on Wii and Nintendo DS; occasionally tink Based in Saitama, Japan but often found attending tech events in Tokyo. Enjoys playing video games on Wii and Nintendo DS; occasionally tinkering with GNU/Linux and Mac OSX; and actively following blogs and tech sites about the latest tech and web trends. Follow him on twitter and FriendFeed.

    Willcom-logoThe Fourth largest mobile carrier in Japan, Willcom, has filed for bankruptcy. Looking at their subscriber  base over recent years it’s not surprising as they’ve been struggling to increase their customer numbers.

    In the 2006/2007 time frame Willcom was considered as the top Smartphone carrier for individuals and small businesses. If you were looking for a smartphone (mostly windows mobile based) with qwerty keyboards, they were the provider of choice.

    But this was before iPhone and Android mobiles were introduced into the market. Since that time, market share for Willcom has decreased.

    Even though they have filed for bankruptcy there have been promises of continued service for subscribers as it restructures. But I can’t help but think customers will leave in flocks to other operators as they hear this bankruptcy news. The current shareholdings of companies; Carlyle, Kyocera, and KDDI will lose their investment.

    Willcom says that they are in talks with Softbank about a possible spin-off of their services. They have also filed for Japanese government aid to help turn around the company coming out of the bankruptcy. Just last week the government aid organization agreed to help struggling Japan Airlines restructure their company.

    For more details on this news, NY Times reporter Hiroko Tabuchi has the story.