• Kyodo


SoftBank Corp. said Saturday it will launch a flat-rate domestic call service on July 1 similar to the one introduced this month by rival NTT Docomo Inc. amid competition from inexpensive smartphone services.

The nation’s other major mobile carrier, KDDI Corp., which provides services under the brand name au, is expected to follow suit, according to industry sources.

SoftBank has partly offered a flat-rate service for calls between its handsets, but the upcoming one will cover all calls including those to fixed-line phones and mobile phones of other carriers, it said.

The monthly basic charges for a two-year contract will come to ¥2,700, excluding tax, for smartphones, and ¥2,200 for conventional cellphones, both the same as NTT Docomo’s prices, SoftBank said.

The company will also introduce a range of rate options for data communications that can be chosen based on data traffic and enable users to carry over unused capacity or share it with family members, it said.

Moves by retailers and other companies outside the industry to sell lower-rate smartphones, such as supermarket chain Aeon Co. and electronics discount chain Bic Camera Inc., are believed to have pressured major carriers to review their fees.