Softbank to return mobile licence

2 May 2006

In the wake of its recent purchase of Vodafone KK from UK-based Vodafone Group, Softbank Corp is now expected to return the mobile licence it acquired to enter the Japanese market last year. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications gave Softbank the concession in November 2005 ahead of a planned launch this year, but the operator plans to use Vodafone’s existing infrastructure rather than start a new network and business model from scratch. Softbank’s incoming president Masayoshi Son said its mobile unit would devise a more competitive pricing strategy with better service features in an effort to close the gap on NTT DoCoMo and KDDI. Son said the company also planned to drop the Vodafone name, adding that a new branding would be finalised when the board meets next month. Softbank envisages launching models under the new brand name in the autumn.

Japan, SoftBank Group Corp