The two regional units of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. said Friday that they will cut their initial fee for fixed-line telephone service in half to 36,000 yen, effective March 1.

While the reduction paves the way for the eventual phaseout of the fee, NTT East Corp. and NTT West Corp. did not say when the charge will be scrapped. The two carriers currently charge an initial subscription fee of 72,000 yen to install and maintain telephone lines in homes and offices.

Now that NTT’s telephone networks cover almost every part of Japan, the Telecommunications Council, a government advisory panel, last month called for NTT East and NTT West to gradually abolish the fee, which is considered to be discouraging new subscriptions.

While the decision will benefit new NTT fixed-line customers, it is expected to draw fire from current subscribers because the two NTT units will not refund them the difference.

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