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DOCOMO PACIFIC

DOCOMO PACIFIC: industry-leading services in a unique market IN ASSOCIATION WITH

DIGITAL REPORT 2020


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DOCOMO PACIFIC: industry-leading services in a unique market


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D O C O M O PA C I F I C

Roderick Boss, CEO of DOCOMO PACIFIC, discusses providing world class telco services in a unique market context

H

ome to fewer than 170,000 people, annually buffeted by tropical storms, and a transPacific junction for undersea cables, the

island of Guam represents one of the most unique market contexts in the telecommunications industry. It is culturally and politically a US territory, but 04

sits a mere three and a half hour flight away from Tokyo and Manila; its user base is smaller than the population of Fort Collins, Colorado, but Guam’s telecommunications market is one of the most sophisticated in the world. It’s competitive too, with four mobile industry operators vying for a market share smaller than most others. “This is a very unique territory to be operating in, due to both our geography and our identity as a US territory,” says Roderick Boss, CEO of DOCOMO PACIFIC. “Being in the US but so close to Asia gives us a big advantage that’s maybe disproportionate to our population size.” Founded in 1991, DOCOMO PACIFIC is the biggest telecom operator in both Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). As the only overseas subsidiary telecom operator of NTT


1993

Year founded

530

Number of employees

05

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D O C O M O PA C I F I C

“Being in the US but so close to Asia gives us a big advantage that’s maybe disproportionate to our population size” — Roderick Boss, CEO, DOCOMO PACIFIC

DOCOMO, a leading Japanese mobile provider, DOCOMO PACIFIC brings a unique value proposition to a wholly unique market. We sat down with Boss to find out more about the strategies and values that have allowed the company to become the region’s leading telecom provider, and why Guam itself is the perfect test bed for NTT DOCOMO’s 5G ambitions. According to Boss, Guam’s hypercompetitive market is one of the key drivers behind DOCOMO PACIFIC’s

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success. “We have a very competitive market here, and our position as the leading provider in the region is hard won,” he explains. “That competition is a driver behind a lot of the innovation that we do: we have to innovate in order to attract the business of this very sophisticated population. People want the latest devices, the best possible network quality, reliability and world class customer service – and we have to provide them with that.” Boss joined DOCOMO PACIFIC in the summer of 2018, a continuation of multiple decades of experience in the telecommunications sector. Even after years working in Japan, the Philipines and


Nokia: Interview about 5G with Roderick Boss, CEO, DOCOMO PACIFIC CLICK TO WATCH

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across the Pacific, he acknowledges

SOPHISTICATION AT (ISLAND) SCALE

that the opportunities and challenges

The unique combination of a sophis-

that Guam and the CNMI present have

ticated population that demands

required a unique adjustment. “Coming

technological excellence, status as US

to this market definitely required an

territories, and small market scale make

adjustment, compared to working for

DOCOMO PACIFIC a uniquely valuable

a telecommunications provider in a

card in NTT DOCOMO’s hand. “There

big market,” he reflects. “Here, we still

are a couple of reasons they’ve invested

need to provide everything that you’d

in us,” explains Boss. “Our proximity

expect from a world class telecom

to Japan makes it very convenient,

company, but it has to be the island

as well as the fact that we’re in touch

version of that. That doesn’t mean

with what’s going on in the US market;

lower quality or less technology, it’s

there’s a lot that we can learn from

just a different version.”

them and that they can learn from us.” w w w.do c o mo pa c i f ic. com


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“We have a very competitive market here and our position as the leading provider in the region is hard won” — Roderick Boss, CEO, DOCOMO PACIFIC

wealth of different cultures, perspectives and skill sets. “We have a very diverse organisation. We have people from all over Asia, from the local Chamorro population, a big Filipino population as well as distinct Korean and Japanese demographics. So, add to that all the military personnel that come and go and you have a very diverse and dynamic little island,” says Boss. “I feel like that diversity is a real strength in our operation. It allows for innovation and a very respectful environment. I think that’s something that DOCOMO PACIFIC puts a lot of value in.” The other major benefit that

Whereas NTT DOCOMO is a mobile-

DOCOMO PACIFIC’s secluded market

only provider, DOCOMO PACIFIC is a

provides is its role as an ideal test bed

quad-play organisation, which provides

for leading-edge technologies. Around

a singular opportunity for its executives.

the world, the advent of 5G adoption

“We’re tiny when you set us against the

is creating a revolution in the telecom-

whole NTT DOCOMO world, but we

munications industry. With implications

have about six or seven executives at

that range from lightning fast, reliable

a time who come on a rotational basis

digital communications, to a cornu-

from Japan to work here with us and

copia of IoT and smart infrastructure

learn how our full fixed service and

applications, the next decade of digital

mobile business works,” says Boss.

communications are set to be defined

Sitting at the intersection of the

by the rise of 5G. Early adopters and

Pacific, US and Asian markets,

innovators in this space can expect to

DOCOMO PACIFIC has access to a

reap huge rewards. w w w.do c o mo pa c i f ic. com

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D O C O M O PA C I F I C

10

THE RACE FOR 5G

5G lab, which was opened here,”

“We started our 5G journey more than

explains Boss. The lab serves to com-

two years ago,” notes Boss. “NTT

plement DOCOMO’s Open Partner

DOCOMO was developing as a global

Program, which allows outside compa-

leader of 5G innovation and we were

nies to partner with DOCOMO PACIFIC

talking to them very early on about the

in order to test their 5G applications,

possibility of testing 5G capabilities

equipment and new concepts at no cost.

in our market.” In February 2019, the

However, the island’s fiercely

company unveiled a new DOCOMO

competitive market quickly spurred

5G Open lab at its headquarters in

DOCOMO PACIFIC on to greater

Tamuning, Guam. “NTT DOCOMO

heights of innovation. “A few weeks

already had three other labs in Japan –

after the launch of our lab, one of our

in Tokyo, Okinawa and Osaka – and

competitors held a big press confer-

number four was their first international

ence to announce that they were


E X E C U T I V E P R OF IL E :

Roderick Boss Roderick Boss is currently President and CEO of DOCOMO PACIFIC in Guam. Prior to joining DOCOMO PACIFIC, he held senior positions at ManpowerGroup in the US, Japan and the Philippines. Before ManpowerGroup, he was the President and CEO of Pacific Crossing Limited, the owner and operator of a subsea fiber optic telecommunications cable system in the Pacific. Before joining Pacific Crossing he was the President and CEO of Japan Telecom America, the US arm of Japan Telecom, then Japan’s third largest telephone carrier and largest broadband service provider. JT is now part of Softbank Communications. Before returning to the US and Japan Telecom America, Rod held various senior positions in Japan Telecom in Japan. He was responsible for all global services and products. Rod spent a total of eighteen years living and working in Japan at a variety of telecom companies including PowerBand Communications, J-Phone, International Digital Communications, AirTouch International, and Vodafone. He started his telecom career at AT&T where he worked in Tokyo, New York and New Jersey. Rod began his career at Honda Motor Company in Tokyo where he was a member of the first group of foreigners hired into Honda’s management training program. Rod holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brigham Young University and a Master of International Management Degree from the Thunderbird School of International Management.

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going to commercially launch 5G in

the early adoption stage of the tech-

Guam and the CNMI by the end of

nology, and the world class nature of

2019,” recalls Boss. “I kind of took

DOCOMO PACIFIC’s extant 4G/LTE

that as a personal challenge. I said

network – which he notes consistently

“if they’re going to launch before the

achieves 70-80 mbps speeds – Boss

end of the year, we’re not going to be

explains that he isn’t planning to cover

beat.” DOCOMO PACIFIC launched

Guam’s entire 549 km² of land. Rather,

its fixed network 5G services in Guam

DOCOMO PACIFIC has established

in October, and Boss explains that

three major hot spots in the island’s

the company is set to follow up with a

busiest villages. “The rest of that

mobile 5G service in the near future.

deployment schedule will be defined

“We actually launched ahead of NTT

by the market and driven by demand,

DOCOMO in Japan,” he says. Given

not the other way round,” he states. 13

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S20 is going to be able to use 5G when they’re within one of our hot spots.” Beyond flagship mobile devices, however, Boss notes that there’s an array of potential applications that are particularly suited to Guam’s needs. “Our geography makes us isolated, which can present limitations to our healthcare system. It’s hard to get a lot of specialist doctors to come all the way to this small island so, when people have something serious, they get on a plane to Tokyo, Manila or Hawaii,” he explains. The high speeds, reliability and low latency that 5G provides has A key driver of market demand

far-reaching implications for delivering

for mobile 5G services will be the

medical expertise to remote locations

increased capability of widely avail-

around the world. He also explains that,

able handsets. “Initially we’d been

since Guam has a single university and

using an LG phone that uses the

one community college, the potential

same frequency for 5G as Sprint’s

benefits of distance learning for the

network in the US, and we managed

island are also substantive. However, he

to get that ahead of schedule,” Boss

notes that both applications are prin-

explains. “Now, of course, Samsung’s

cipally based upon fixed 5G networks,

S20 is 5G capable. This means we’re

and that the process of finding applica-

seeing a progression from one highly

tions for 5G mobile that aren’t already

specialised handset, to having a very

being supported by the last generation

mainstream model of phone that’s 5G

of technology is an ongoing process.

capable. For us, that really changed the game, because anyone with an

“For me, there’s one major application for mobile 5G in Guam that I’m w w w.do c o mo pa c i f ic. com

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D O C O M O PA C I F I C

16 most excited about and that’s fiber

neighbourhood and achieve fiber-like

replacement. If I can get internet

speeds through wireless, by dropping

speeds that are comparable to fiber

a tower near my users, that’s a signifi-

without having to dig up the ground

cant game changer for our market.”

or drill holes in people’s walls, that’s a game changer.” Guam is located in

A VITAL ECOSYSTEM

what’s colloquially known as “Typhoon

Providing world-class services in a

Alley”. Every year, some of the world’s

tiny market is an ambitious goal, and

most devastating storms sweep across

DOCOMO PACIFIC fully leverages

the Pacific and break on the island.

its network of partner relationships

As a result, Boss explains that build-

to support its goal. “Our partnerships

ings on the island tend to be made

are incredibly important to us,” says

of reinforced concrete. “In-building

Boss. “Because of our scale, we have

penetration is a big issue,” he says.

limitations in the skills and knowhow

“If I can use 5G to go into a

that we can have inhouse. So we rely on


17 our partners’ expertise and by having

the modern enterprise. As countries

close working relationships, we can

around the world close their borders

make their expertise our own. We have

to travellers, and the global economy is

a long and close relationship with Nokia,

forced into history’s biggest experiment

which provides our network equipment.

with remote work, it falls to telecom-

Another key partner is Commscope,

munications providers to ensure that the

who we’ve bought a number of products

world remains connected.

from over many years. We see the mem-

“Over the past five years, we’ve seen

bers of the companies we work with

a big shift from voice to data. During

as members of our own team, so those

the current COVID-19 pandemic we,

relationships are incredibly important.”

along with telco operators all over the world, have seen a massive increase

THE COVID-19 CHALLENGE

in our broadband business – about a

The ongoing global pandemic repre-

90% increase – and haven’t had any

sents an unprecedented challenge for

network throttling. We’ve been able to w w w.do c o mo pa c i f ic. com


D O C O M O PA C I F I C

“If I can use 5G to achieve fiber-like speeds through wireless, that’s a significant game changer for our market” 18

— Roderick Boss, CEO, DOCOMO PACIFIC

DOCOMO PACIFIC: You + Dreams #BetterTogether CLICK TO WATCH

|

1:00


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handle this spike because we’ve been

we sell to people, so we were in a good

making the transition to data for a long

position to move to that very quickly.”

time,” explains Boss.

In response to the pandemic’s effect

Guam went into lockdown in mid-

on the region, DOCOMO PACIFIC has

March. “In our case, immediately

placed its customers first, waiving late

following the first case of COVID-19

fees, providing uncapped data to its

being diagnosed in Guam, we switched

customers and donating PPE to front

to a virtual work strategy across

liners in Guam and the CNMI.

our entire company. Our call centre operations, for example, all went virtual

CONNECTING TO THE FUTURE

within a two-day period. I was pretty

“It’s an incredibly exciting time in the

proud of the team’s ability to do that,”

industry for us. We have a lot of really

says Boss. “Obviously, the ability to

fun things that we’re doing,” enthuses

stay connected remotely is a service

Boss, reflecting on the fact that w w w.do c o mo pa c i f ic. com


D O C O M O PA C I F I C

T O K YO 20 20

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“Because we’re a small island operator, and most suppliers adjust rates according to volume, it’s important that our suppliers recognise that. One example of that is the “2020 Olympics. We were hoping to get the sponsorship to be the official telecom supplier to the Guam National Olympic Committee. This is managed by the IOC, and they charge astronomical fees for these sponsorships. We were hoping that they would understand that we’re a tiny market with our own Olympic team separate

from the US. We thought that with it being so close to us geographically, and with us being part of a Japanese telco, it would be a great sponsorship opportunity. It actually turned out very well; they were able to understand our scale and give us a rate we could afford. Now, we’re Guam’s official telecommunications sponsor for Team Guam to the Summer Olympics event. We need a lot more of our partners to recognize that we need worldclass products and support, but at small island prices.”


“I love this industry. It’s where new technology comes first, it’s incredibly competitive – and I love competition” — Roderick Boss, CEO, DOCOMO PACIFIC

for people who are moving away from full-service cable. That’s something that we’re going to see launched here very soon and I’m really excited about it,” he says. “I’ve watched my cable business shrink, year-over-year, for some time. Rather than just wait and see what happens with that, I’m ready to be a player in this new market as well.” From new technology, new strategies and constant competition to stay on top, to its inherent customer centricity, DOCOMO PACIFIC is

DOCOMO PACIFIC represents his

a uniquely capable company that

first experience with the TV and broad-

punches above its weight, operating

casting business. “The media and TV

in a market unlike any other. “I love this

businesses are at an inflection point

industry. It’s where new technology

right now around the world. OTT broad-

comes first, it’s incredibly competi-

casters are seeing this phenomenal

tive – and I love competition – and it’s

growth, creating their own content, and

fun to come to work everyday,” says

that’s driving this huge transformation.”

Boss. “We’ve built a great team here

In response to the rapid acceleration

at DOCOMO PACIFIC. We’re lucky to

of OTT adoption and the proportional

have a very supportive shareholder

decline in traditional cable services,

that allows us to do some things we

Boss is exploring ways for DOCOMO

might not otherwise be able to do. I’m

PACIFIC to once again thrive in

very happy to have that and, looking at

response to market pressure and com-

the future, I think it’s pretty bright.”

petition. “What I want is for those people to leave me for me. That means that I’m developing my own IPTV offering w w w.do c o mo pa c i f ic. com

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DOCOMO PACIFIC 890 S. MARINE CORPS DRIVE, TAMUNING, GUAM, GU 96913

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