Spectrum allocation decision angers Softbank

7 Sep 2004

The president of Japanese internet and telecoms group Softbank has launched a vociferous public attack on the country’s regulator over its decision not to allocate spectrum bandwidth to new entrants for the foreseeable future. According to the Financial Times, Masayoshi Son said that the ruling to reallocate spectrum to the benefit of NTT DoCoMo and KDDI was ‘unfair’, ‘lacking in transparency’ and also difficult to fathom. The Ministry is planning to issue DoCoMo and KDDI with additional bandwidth when the 800MHz frequency band is reorganised. However, Mr Son argues that as the two operators have unused spectrum in another frequency band, it is unfair to give them extra frequencies and thus effectively prevent Softbank from launching its own mobile service in the 800MHz band. Not surprisingly DoCoMo and KDDI have supported the ministry’s decision although Mr Son has warned that the move will prevent competition from driving down the country’s high mobile phone call rates. Softbank’s entry into the sector has sparked fears from existing operators that it would undermine their revenues by offering cut-price services. The newcomer is angry at what it sees as favouritism for the two companies, both of which were formed from entities that used to be publicly owned.