Unlocked SIMs, not in Japan

Staff writer
10 Jun 2010

A senior minister of Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) caused an uproar last month, when he said that the ministry supported the unlocking of SIM cards.

In a blog, Masamitsu Naito, senior vice minister for communications at the MIC, said that unlocking SIMs would encourage operators, including MVNOs, to more actively compete, thus leading to lower tariffs.

Then Communications Minister Kazuhiro Haraguchi intervened, saying the ministry had no plans to end SIM card locking.

Whoops, too late.

The news sent Softbank Mobile's stock price falling 4% on fears that unlocked SIMs would end its exclusive sales rights to Apple's iPhone.

The concern goes that most iPhone consumers, if given a choice, would move from Softbank Mobile to DoCoMo because of the latter's wider and better 3G network coverage.

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