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A phone industry group aims to collect a monthly surcharge of 7 yen each on all phones to pay for maintaining uniform fixed-line services in all parts of Japan, group officials said Thursday.

The Telecommunications Carriers Association plans to file for approval of the planned surcharge, which is estimated to grow to 15 billion yen, with the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry on Friday.

If the ministry agrees, it will be up to each phone company to decide whether to pay the new charges themselves or pass them on to subscribers. The sum assigned to each telecom carrier will be a total fee of 7 yen multiplied by the number of phones in use in their programs. The charges will start next January or later.

The association believes that all phone users should help to pay the high costs of maintaining the money-losing land-line services offered in remote areas. The services are provided by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corp. and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone West Corp., the two local carriers of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp.

However, industry watchers say phone companies may find it hard to get their customers in urban areas to pay for services they will not use.

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