Japan's eAccess plans new move in cellphone war

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's eAccess Ltd 9427.T aims to quadruple its wireless services subscribers over the next year with its mobile phones, as growth slows in its ADSL broadband business.

Granted a new wireless license in 2005, eAccess plans to eliminate monthly basic fees on its first mobile phones, to be launched on March 28, as it eyes revenue from Internet surfing and downloads on the move.

But eAccess's move, which also cuts call rates, could further exacerbate a price war involving Japan's biggest mobile carrier NTT DoCoMo Inc 9437.T, No.2 KDDI Corp 9433.T and No.3 Softbank Corp 9984.T in a saturated market.

EAccess unveiled two phones made by Taiwan's High Tech Computer (HTC) 2498.TW, the world's biggest smartphone maker, and Japan's Toshiba Corp 6502.T on Monday.

The phones, priced at 57,980 yen ($540) and 67,980 yen ($633), would help the company lift its subscribers by 1 million in the year ending in March 2009 from a projected 300,000 users at the end of March this year.

By keeping phone charges low, eAccess hopes to earn revenues from file downloads and email and sign up more users to its premium data plan, whose monthly charges start at 4,980 yen.

“During the first year, the majority of revenues will come from data services -- maybe 60 to 70 percent,” said Eric Gan, eAccess’s chief financial officer.

“We are looking at (average revenues per user) of 3,000 yen to 4,000 yen.”

EAccess said it would provide free 24-hour calls to other users of its mobile phone service for a monthly charge of 980 yen. The plan also lower calls to fixed lines to 5 yen per 30 seconds and 9 yen per 30 seconds for calls to mobile phones at other carriers.

People who opt out of the 980 yen fee will be charged 18 yen per 30 seconds of call time.

Shares of eAccess closed up 2.1 percent at 68,400 yen, while DoCoMo closed down 3.2 percent, KDDI rose 0.2 percent and Softbank rose 2.0 percent.

($1=107.34 Yen)

Reporting by Mayumi Negishi, Editing by Michael Watson