December 28, 2012, 4:54 AM — Japan's mobile operators are asking users to postpone their New Year's greetings this year.
In anticipation of the network congestion that occurs around midnight on Dec. 31, the Japanese Telecommunications Carriers Association has requested that users postpone sending text messages or making phone calls for a few hours. The group warned users to expect delays in delivering text messages for a few hours after the new year arrives.
"We will work to deliver as many 'Congratulation' messages as possible, but there are some situations where temporary limits will have to be placed on mobile phone usage," the association said in an online posting. "We request that customers cooperate by restraining themselves as much as possible."
As in the rest of the world, Japan's networks come under heavy strain during on New Year's Eve. Unlike many countries in the West, it is common in Japan to return to the family home for the holiday, so the mobile users that are normally concentrated in major cities are spread out across the country, away from their friends, when the annual surge occurs.
The association includes all of Japan's major mobile carriers, including NTT DoCoMo, Softbank, and KDDI. The companies said that the peak time for phone calls is 45 minutes to an hour after midnight, while the spike in text messages lasts for over two hours.
There are currently about 128.4 million mobile contracts in Japan, according to the TCA. The country had a total population of 127.8 million in 2011, according to government statistics.