The Diet on Friday enacted a set of revised telecommunications laws that are intended to revitalize and promote fair competition in the telecom market.
The revisions to the NTT Law, the Telecommunications Business Law and other telecom-related legislation were passed by an Upper House plenary session.
Speaking at a regular news conference earlier in the day, Toranosuke Katayama, minister in charge of telecommunications, said the legislation marks a “big stride” in promoting fair competition in the market.
The revised laws will introduce restrictions on two regional firms of the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. — NTT East Corp. and NTT West Corp. — and mobile phone operators with market shares over a certain level.
For instance, the two NTT regional carriers will be required to disclose connection fees they charge other telecom companies.
The specific market share level will be set later. But the government is considering 25 percent, as has been set in Europe. If this is the case, NTT DoCoMo Inc. and some other operators belonging to the KDDI and Japan Telecom groups would be subject to the restrictions.
Under the revised laws, NTT East and NTT West will be allowed to enter some new business fields, including Internet services, under the condition of ensuring fair competition.
Meanwhile, restrictions over foreign shareholdings in NTT, the holding company, will be eased with the upper limit raised from the current 20 percent to one-third.
An arbitration committee, which will have the authority to make recommendations to the telecom minister, will be established to mediate possible conflicts between telecom companies.
The revised laws also call for creating a fund to help maintain so-called universal services, under which the NTT regional firms are required to provide uniform services nationwide. Newcomers to the industry will be required to contribute to the fund to share the burden of the mandatory uniform services imposed on the NTT firms.
NTT, FM Tokyo link
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp.’s two regional units said Friday they will form a joint venture with Tokyo FM Broadcasting Co. (FM Tokyo) next month to deliver audio and video clips on the Internet.
To be capitalized at 700 million yen, TFM Interactive Inc. will be owned about 49 percent by FM Tokyo and some 37 percent by NTT East Corp. and NTT West Corp., officials at the two NTT firms said.
The remaining capital will be put up by other investors, they said.
The new company will provide subscribers with content that includes live concert broadcasts via digital subscriber lines and fiber optics networks, they said.
FM Tokyo will generate the content, while NTT East and NTT West will be responsible for building systems for broadband content distribution, they said.
The move reflects NTT’s efforts to incite demand for its planned high-speed fiber-optic telecom service to be launched in July, industry analysts said.
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