Following price cuts, subscribers flock to Softbank

30 Oct 2006

(Associated Press via NewsEdge) Japanese mobile carrier Softbank Mobile, which slashed its prices to undercut rivals, said it had to stop taking new applications because it was flooded by new customers wanting to switch to its service.

It is a bitter victory for Softbank, which had rolled out the aggressive price cuts in a last-ditch effort to score on the arrival in Japan of number portability - a system that lets people keep the same numbers when they switch carriers.

It is expected to bring big changes to Japan's mobile phone market.

Softbank, which bought British carrier Vodafone's mobile business in Japan earlier this year and is run by technology mogul Masayoshi Son, had been looking for ways to catch up with larger competitors like NTT DoCoMo and KDDI.

Softbank stopped accepting new customers shortly after noon Sunday when its computer system could not handle the load, the company said in a news release. It apologized to customers and promised to resume taking switch-over business when it readies the system for increased volume.

The company did not say how many customers had tried to enroll.

It was the second time that Softbank had to suspend taking switch-over customers.

The new fee system unveiled by Softbank features free calls and instant messages between subscribers, and lowers basic monthly fees, in some cases by 70%.

Softbank will also underprice any bargain offer by competitors within 24 hours, ensuring that its monthly service charges will always be 200 yen ($1.69) cheaper than those of its rivals.

© 2006 The Associated Press

© 2006 Dialog, a Thomson business. All rights reserved

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