The Japanese government outlined a range of measures it argued are necessary to boost competition in the mobile market, with pricing a key target of a strategy it plans to begin enforcing from April 2021.
In a statement, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications argued consumers are currently subject to high prices, along with a confusing and expensive process to switch providers. It also appeared to take a swipe at the control exerted by NTT Docomo, KDDI and Softbank Corp, with an element of its strategy designed to make wholesale access cheaper.
The ministry’s plan covers three key pillars: offering clear prices and services; promoting “fair competition”; and boosting consumers’ ability to switch provider, in particular by removing a JPY3,000 ($28.65) fee attached to such changes if users implement the move online.
It plans to establish a consumer website outlining the benefits of switching and advice on how to do so in the fiscal year beginning 1 April 2021, when it also intends to begin enforcing mobile number portability guidelines. The use of eSIMs will also be explored, with recommendations on promoting their use due to be issued by mid-2021.
Another move in the pipeline is a review of data connection charges which could deliver a mandate for operators to halve fees within three years, though the process for this is currently scheduled to begin in the new fiscal year.
Before then, the ministry intends to begin exploring how frequencies are allocated, continue implementing programmes to promote infrastructure sharing and target “further reduction of voice wholesale charges”.
The Japan Times explained new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga had a longstanding desire to tackle what he believes are high prices in the country.
In late 2019 the country clamped down on a practice linking high data fees to device subsidies.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back