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Japanese cellcos to piggyback on rivals’ networks in the event of outages

7 Dec 2022

Japan’s main mobile network operators (MNOs) have agreed a plan to start using their rivals’ networks in the event of outages and service disruptions to their customers. The move comes after a major incident in July this year in which 30.91 million KDDI subscribers were hit by roughly two days’ of service disruption. The problems interrupted corporate logistics systems, bank ATM services and other services such as public transport charge cards, and prompted a swift apology from KDDI President Makoto Takahashi, who said his company will look into compensating affected customers after examining details of the phone and data communication service disruption.

In the aftermath of the incident the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) issued an administrative guidance to KDDI, ordering it to take measures to prevent a repeat of the recent network failure. Now, the MNO has confirmed that later this month it will allow companies and local governments to use the networks of NTT DOCOMO and SoftBank Corp as a backup. In the event of a disruption, the user will be switched automatically to the backup, but will – it notes – have to pay for the data used. It argues that this charge would still be lower than the alternative: signing a new contract with another service provider. Further, it is understood that NTT Corp intends to introduce a similar arrangement for DOCOMO users later this month, with users switching to KDDI in the event of a network outage.

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