Japan passes bill to lower mobile phone fees

13 May 2019

Japan’s bicameral legislature The National Diet last Friday (10 May) enacted a legal revision of the telecoms law designed to lower mobile phone fees and spur competition in the country’s saturated telecom market. With Japan’s mobile carriers NTT DOCOMO, KDDI (au) and SoftBank Corp drawing criticism for maintaining high charges compared to other countries, the Diet passed a Bill to amend the Telecommunications Business Law, banning them from offering plans that bundle both the price of a mobile phone and connection fees in one package. For many years, Japanese carriers have discounted mobile device purchases in exchange for relatively high data usage fees, which critics note make it harder for consumers to compare fees charged by operators. The new law will take effect as early as autumn 2019, after the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) compiles guidelines for fee plans. Other changes include a registration requirement for mobile phone retailers that would give authorities greater oversight, and new penalties for companies that use misleading sales tactics.

The government approved the legal amendment in March this year and on 15 April Japan’s leading mobile network operator by subscribers NTT DOCOMO announced plans to cut some of its current mobile communications fees by up to 40% – and to introduce the new plans in June which will separate out the cost of the handset from the communications fees. SoftBank Corp and KDDI have also confirmed they will comply with the new rules, with the latter today (13 May) confirming that next month it will introduce new mobile communication fee plans up to 40% cheaper than current ones.