SoftBank to slash smartphone charges in Japan

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TOKYO -’s No.3 mobile carrier, will cut its charges in a flat rate for unlimited voice calling and cheaper data , in a sign that price competition may be starting pick up in ’s mobile market.

The lower rates, take effect next month, are similar reductions this month by rival NTT DoCoMo Inc, ’s largest wireless provider. Regulators have grown increasingly critical the three dominant carriers, blaming them for fees and oligopolistic practices.

The authorities’ complaints came at an awkward time for SoftBank CEO Masayoshi , as he tries convince . regulators that a proposed acquisition by Sprint Corp, the No.3 . mobile carrier, No.4 T-Mobile US Inc would competition in the . market, by giving the top two carriers more a run for .

In addition to flat-fee unlimited voice calling, SoftBank will offer options allowing users to roll over unused data communications to the next month or to share them family members.

It also will launch special offers or discounts for family , long-term users and subscribers aged 25 and under.

A voice-only will be priced at 2,700 yen ($26.33) per month, while data will run from 3,500 yen per month for 2 gigabytes up to 22,500 yen for 30 GB.

Japan’s wireless carriers had typically offered only -end smartphone plans minimum charges of 5,700 yen per month for 7 GB of data communications. The communications ministry has charged that the uniformly fees showed there insufficient competition in the industry.KDDI Corp, the second-largest carrier, is also considering offering flat-rate, unlimited calling, sources familiar the matter have said. (Reuters)