The two regional phone operators of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. plan to launch cut-rate Internet protocol telephony services in October, officials at the two firms said Thursday.

On Friday, NTT East Corp. and NTT West Corp. will apply for approval of the plan with the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry, the officials said.

The new services will initially be offered to corporate customers, although they may be offered to individual customers as well in the future, they said.

IP phone services are expanding rapidly as the charges are far lower than those for conventional fixed-line phone services. The Softbank Corp. group has taken the lead in the IP phone market, while another NTT group firm, NTT Communications Corp., has already entered the market.

The entry of the two dominant NTT regional phone carriers will likely accelerate the use of IP phones across the nation, industry officials said.

Calls between Tokyo and Osaka via conventional fixed-line phone services normally cost 80 yen per three minutes.

But NTT East and NTT West plan to charge no fees for calls between their IP phones and charge about 8 yen per three minutes for calls made to conventional phones regardless of distance, the officials said.

The two firms, which depend heavily on fixed-line services as a main revenue source, had been reluctant to enter the IP phone market. But with more phone firms launching IP phone services, they had no choice but to follow suit, the industry officials said.

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