TOKYO, June 7 SoftBank Corp, Japan's
No.3 mobile carrier, will cut its smartphone charges in Japan
with a flat rate for unlimited voice calling and cheaper data
plans, in a sign that price competition may be starting to pick
up in Japan's mobile market.
The lower rates, to take effect next month, are similar to
reductions this month by rival NTT DoCoMo Inc, Japan's
largest wireless provider. Regulators have grown increasingly
critical of the three dominant carriers, blaming them for high
smartphone fees and oligopolistic practices.
The authorities' complaints came at an awkward time for
SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, as he tries to convince U.S.
regulators that a proposed acquisition by his Sprint Corp,
the No.3 U.S. mobile carrier, of No.4 T-Mobile US Inc
would boost competition in the U.S. market, by giving the top
two carriers more of a run for their money.
In addition to flat-fee unlimited voice calling, SoftBank
will offer options allowing users to roll over unused data
communications to the next month or to share them with family
It also will launch special offers or discounts for family
plans, long-term users and subscribers aged 25 and under.
A voice-only smartphone service will be priced at 2,700 yen
($26.33) per month, while data plans will run from 3,500 yen per
month for 2 gigabytes up to 22,500 yen for 30 GB.
Japan's wireless carriers had typically offered only
high-end smartphone plans with minimum charges of 5,700 yen per
month for 7 GB of data communications. The communications
ministry has charged that the uniformly high fees showed there
was insufficient competition in the industry.
KDDI Corp, the second-largest carrier, is also
considering offering flat-rate, unlimited calling, sources
familiar with the matter have said.
($1 = 102.5600 Japanese Yen)
(Reporting by Yoshiyasu Shida and Teppei Kasai; Writing by
Edmund Klamann; Editing by David Holmes)