Japan may promote lower mobile phone fees

A man using a mobile phone passes a NTT DoCoMo shop in Tokyo April 25, 2008. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s government will seek to introduce new guidelines on mobile phone connection fees as early as 2010, which may lower rates for consumers, the Asahi newspaper reported on Thursday.

Current law does not specify a pricing model for connection fees, which carriers pay each other, and such fees are about 35 yen per three minutes, a major reason why domestic mobile phone fees are high, it said.

NTT DoCoMo Inc 9437.T, KDDI Corp 9433.T and Softbank Corp 9984.T are Japan's main mobile phone carriers.

“In theory, operators’ incomes and payments both shrink if connection fees are reduced, so there should be little impact on their earnings,” Daiwa Institute of Research analyst Naoto Osugi said. “But if users’ fees ended up being lowered because of that, then it can be negative for the carriers.”

Yuji Kosugi, an official at the communications ministry, told Reuters the government plans to gather opinions on how to improve the nation’s mobile phone system, but it has not decided to reduce connection fees.

The Asahi said connection fees for mobile phones are more than seven times those of fixed-line phones and that the ministry plans to set up a standard pricing model and ask mobile phone operators to follow it.

NTT DoCoMo shares ended 0.7 percent higher, KDDI fell 0.5 percent and Softbank lost 2.9 percent in a broader market .N225 down Nikkei average .N225 was down 3.9 percent.

Reporting by Yumiko Nishitani and Sachi Izumi