• Kyodo

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The United States asked Japan on Tuesday to reconsider its plan to allow NTT Corp. to raise charges to other carriers for access to its phone lines, a Japanese official said.

The U.S. made the request at a bilateral working-level meeting in Washington on deregulation in the telecommunications sector.

The U.S. argued that NTT’s regional telephone carriers — NTT East Corp. and NTT West Corp. — should instead cut fees they impose on foreign and domestic carriers for access to its network, the Japanese official said.

On Feb. 14, the telecom ministry came up with a plan to allow NTT East and NTT West to raise those fees by about 5 percent as a whole, though some fees will be lowered.

The Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry also proposed that the two NTT regional units maintain a uniform access rate.

At the deregulation talks, the U.S. insisted that NTT East and NTT West should adopt different access fees, depending on their business conditions, the official said.

Japan told the U.S. that the access rate plan is now open for public comments and that the U.S. should use the process if it has an opinion to convey, according to the official.

After hearing public opinions until March 14 and holding advisory panel discussions, the ministry will adopt new NTT access rates so they can become effective April 1.

The planned hike in NTT access charges is expected to be high on the agenda at a high-level bilateral meeting Thursday and Friday in Washington on a range of deregulation issues.

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