Japanese government launches crusade to cut mobile phone costs
The Japanese government has started to lower prices for mobiles, which are estimated to be three times higher than in other major markets.
“We will wear [the plan] with a sense of urgency, âCommunications Minister Ryota Takeda said Tuesday at a press conference. “We are confident that this will bring the fees more in line with international standards.”
The Ministry of the Interior and Communication in fact does not have the ability to charge lower fees. But because of the government’s multiple roles as regulator and major shareholder, and its relationship with major commercial investors, he knows he can persuade telecom operators to comply with his plans.
The plan was anticipated by operators, who have already have indicated their will to reduce costs, and it is one of the driving forces behind the reacquisition of NTT DoCoMo for $ 38 billion.
Road to redemption
Among the ministry’s targets are abuses around contract foreclosures, operators demanding fees for customers wishing to switch providers, and the complexity of the service contracts themselves.
It also aims to promote eSIM and expects the big three operators ?? NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and SoftBank ?? reduce wholesale prices to allow more competition from MVNOs.
The new Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, has long campaigned for lower prices for mobile phones. Even before taking the top job, he has publicly stated that mobile phone charges in Japan could be cut by up to 40%.
A widely cited Department of Communications study of cell phone tariffs in six major cities, including London and New York, found Tokyo the second most expensive city for standard data plans and the most expensive for large plans. .
A 20GB data plan costs over 8,000 yen ($ 76.46) per month, about three times the price in London.
Marc Einstein, chief analyst for telecommunications and digital services at ITR Company, said that the mere fact of Suga’s comments “is enough to encourage telecom operators to take action.”
Not surprisingly, there is broad support for reductions in mobile phone charges.
In a meeting between consumer groups and the Ministry of Communications earlier this month, consumers complained about higher mobile costs during coronavirus shutdowns.
An editorial from the Manichi Daily observed: âAs one of the few companies to use limited public radio waves, any excess profits should be returned to the users. ”
?? Robert Clark, Associate Editor, Special for Light Reading