Japan Telecom Co. said Tuesday it will reduce its daytime local call rate to 8.5 yen per three minutes, making it the lowest local phone charge in Japan, when its nationwide local-call business starts in May.

Competition is intensifying among telephone carriers ahead of the May launch of the new Myline registration system, which allows users to connect to their preferred carriers without dialing prefix numbers.

When Japan Telecom announced plans to enter the local-call market last November, it offered a rate of 8.8 yen per three minutes, the lowest among major carriers.

Since then, however, other firms including KDDI and NTT Communications Corp., have lowered their rates to match Japan Telecom’s.

NTT East Corp. and NTT West Corp. have also cut their rates to 8.8 yen.

The competitive rate cutting has apparently undermined Japan Telecom’s efforts to draw customers, with the company’s president, Haruo Murakami, recently admitting that his company is having a hard time competing.

By further cutting the local rate, Japan Telecom apparently hopes to establish an image as a “cut-rate” carrier to encourage more customers to select it as their preferred carrier under the Myline system.

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