U.S. seeks cut in NTT carrier fees

Kyodo

The United States asked Japan on Monday to make Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. cut the fees it charges other carriers for connecting with its telecom networks, Japanese officials said.

But telecom minister Toranosuke Katayama suggested that Japan may not comply with the demand.

In a working-level meeting in Washington, Japanese negotiators briefed their U.S. counterparts on Japan’s calculation of the fees for a two-year period beginning April 1, the officials told reporters.

But the U.S. officials were disappointed with Japan’s explanation and demanded the introduction of a “transparent” calculation formula, the Japanese officials said.

The U.S. side stopped short of suggesting how sharply it wants the fees reduced.

NTT’s regional carriers — NTT East Corp. and NTT West Corp. — charge connection fees to other carriers and Internet service providers. Under the current formula, the fees are based on the cost of building the NTT networks and the interconnection data traffic.

But the U.S. said Japan should be able to cover the cost without raising the fees. It also opposed a plan to hike interconnection fees in some selected districts of Japan.

The U.S. negotiators indicated they understood the plans by NTT East and NTT West to differentiate their interconnection fees, the Japanese officials said.

Japan was represented by officials from both the Foreign Ministry and the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry, while the U.S. was represented by officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and other agencies.

It is the first time in more than two years for the two countries to hold talks on NTT interconnection fees. They agreed to hold another meeting by the end of the year, the officials added.

In a related development in Tokyo, telecom minister Katayama indicated Japan may not comply with the U.S. demand for the fee cut.

“I had expected them to (ask for the cut), although I have not yet received detailed explanations” from the Japanese negotiators, Katayama said.

“That is what the United States wants.”