Japan’s three mobile operators, NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and Vodafone KK, have begun wooing customers in earnest ahead of the introduction of mobile number portability (MNP) on 24 October. DoCoMo, the market leader by subscribers, has issued brochures comparing the tariffs and rates of the three cellcos, while Vodafone – to be renamed Softbank Mobile on 1 October but to retain the Vodafone brand name – has offered a pay-by-installments option for the purchase of mobile handsets. Meanwhile, KDDI has announced twelve new handsets that will be launched before the end of the year, as well as planning to deploy 1xEV-DO Rev. A in December. The two smaller cellcos have already begun accepting reservations by users who wish to switch; DoCoMo will begin doing so soon.
According to Kyodo News International, a local news service, sources close to the market say that many of DoCoMo’s customers are business users and have refrained from moving to another operator due to the absence of MNP, and that the forthcoming introduction of MNP could see DoCoMo go on the defensive. Elsewhere, claims have been made suggesting that 25% of Vodafone’s subscriber base will seek to move. However, some analysts state that MNP will not have such a great effect due to the costs involved, chiefly a migration fee of approximately JPY5,000 (USD43) and the possibility that users will also need to buy new handsets should they elect to switch.