08 Jul 2010
NTT DoCoMo plans to remove SIM card locks, allowing customers to switch operators without changing handsets, from next April, president Ryuji Yamada has told the Nikkei.
But DoCoMo is banking on its rivals unlocking SIMs too, including the main prize – the iPhone, which is exclusively distributed by Softbank Mobile in Japan.
According to DoCoMo, if SIMs are unlocked, then its better 3G network coverage will entice users from its rivals – KDDI, Softbank Mobile and eMobile – to its ranks.
The April announcement sent DoCoMo’s share price soaring.
The move will win DoCoMo brownie points with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications which announced official guidelines for SIM unlocking on June 30, but left the removal of SIM card locks to the carriers' discretion. In other words, SIM card unlocking it is by no means compulsory.
The ministry is urging operators to unlock SIMs to spur competition and ultimately lower tariffs.
But will Softbank Mobile unlock the iPhone which continues to keep it on top of the leaderboard?
Of course not.