Aiming to lure away rivals’ subscribers while retaining their own, NTT Docomo Inc. on Thursday unveiled new monthly subscription plans that include a fixed rate for unlimited domestic calls and its first data sharing plan for smartphone users.
The plans take effect in June.
Docomo said its basic ¥2,700 monthly fee will include unlimited calling for smartphone users, which is good news for people who make lots of calls. Docomo customers currently pay ¥20 for every 30 seconds on top of the basic service, which costs ¥743 a month.
At the same time, those who make few calls may find the new plan pricey.
With the rise of cheap, or even free, voice call applications like Line, mobile phone carriers have had to rethink their strategies.
Docomo President Kaoru Kato stressed that the carrier’s “quality of voice calls and high connectivity” will appeal to consumers.
The nation’s top carrier also unveiled new plans that allow family members to share data consumption, which could help them save on Internet fees.
For instance, one plan offers 10 gigabytes of data for ¥9,500 a month, with an extra ¥500 a month paid for each family member added.
At the moment, the cheapest fast LTE data plan for smartphones costs ¥4,700 a month with a 3 GB limit. Under the new ¥9,500 sharing plan, four family members could each pay ¥2,750 a month instead, presenting a bargain for people who aren’t heavy Internet users.
For individuals, Docomo currently offers a 3 GB plan for ¥4,700 or a 7 GB plan for ¥5,700. The new plans charge ¥3,500 for 2 GB and ¥5,000 for 5 GB, which powers users might find expensive.
Docomo said it will also give discounts to long-term users. Those who have used the company for more than 16 years will receive a ¥600 monthly discount for the ¥3,500 2 GB plan.
Competition has focused on luring customers from rivals, with giveaways of tens of thousands of yen offered to those who switch. But efforts to improve quality have lagged.
Docomo is apparently trying to differentiate itself with better services that reward loyal customers.
The carrier said its current plans will end in August.