Tokyoites pay the highest mobile phone charges of six major cities around the world, shelling out ¥8,175 for the large data allowance of 20 gigabytes per month, according to a report on fiscal 2019 mobile phone charges released by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry in Tokyo on Tuesday.
In response to the introduction of the revised Telecommunications Business Law last October, mobile phone rates in Japan are slowly falling, but the report showed they still remain relatively high in international terms.
The survey covered six cities — Tokyo, New York, London, Paris, Seoul, and Dusseldorf in Germany — and compared the prices of companies with the largest market shares, such as NTT Docomo Inc. in Tokyo.
The average price in Tokyo fell ¥467 from the previous year but was still more than three times that of London (¥2,700), which had the lowest charge.
The average price for 5 gigabytes was ¥6,250 in Tokyo, which is ¥1,312 lower than the previous year, but still the second-highest after New York’s ¥6,865. In London and Paris, the average prices for 5 gigabytes were less than ¥2,000, with the report highlighting that fees in Japan and the United States remain high.
Behind the higher mobile Internet charges in Japan is the fact that the three major carriers — NTT Docomo, au by KDDI Corp. and SoftBank Corp. — have maintained high market shares. According to the ministry, lower prices overseas are the result of new carriers entering the market and fierce competition with low-cost smartphone makers.
The revised law that went into effect last October bans set discounts on handset prices and communications charges, in principle. In April, Rakuten Inc. entered the mobile phone market by launching a plan that allows unlimited use of its own high-speed service for ¥2,980 (excluding taxes).
The major focus now is whether such moves could lead to further reductions in mobile phone fees in Japan.
“[Japan’s rates] are still high compared to other countries,” Communication Minister Sanae Takaichi said at a press conference after a Cabinet meeting Tuesday. “We’ll strive to reduce costs through the development of a fair competition environment” he further stated.