Japanese carriers woo subscribers ahead of number portability launch

14 Sep 2006

Mobile phone carriers are wooing customers in Japan, ahead of the planned October 24 introduction of a system that will allow subscribers to change carriers while keeping their phone numbers unchanged.

Industry leader NTT DoCoMo has issued brochures comparing the major carriers' mobile phone rate systems, while Vodafone has offered installment payments for mobile handset purchases. KDDI has announced 12 new handsets for this fall and winter.

KDDI and Vodafone have begun accepting reservations by mobile phone users for a switch to their companies. NTT DoCoMo will start doing so soon.

An industry source said many of NTT DoCoMo's customers used mobile phones for business purposes and had refrained from shifting to other carriers due to the absence of a mobile number portability system.

The introduction of the system might force the industry leader to become defensive, the source said.

But some in the industry claim that the mobile number portability system may not prompt users to change carriers since they will have to pay extra fees of around 5,000 yen ($42.98) for the switch and purchase new handsets. A shift will also not allow them to keep email addresses and long-term fee discounts.

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