• Kyodo

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A government advisory panel on Wednesday urged mobile phone carriers to offer cheaper price plans for users who do not surf the Web much, and to bring monthly fees to less than ¥5,000.

Critics say the price plans of three major carriers are aimed at frequent Web surfers and are much too expensive for others.

Abe instructed Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi in September to consider ways to address concerns. He also ordered the ministry to set up a panel of experts, which held hearings with carriers and has now released a report of findings.

In the report, the panel called on providers to review their policy of discounting the purchase of handsets and instead to cut data communication fees.

The report also called on the communications ministry to review how carriers address the issue.

Users deserve prices and services that are “easy to understand,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference following the release of the report.

Takaichi told a meeting of the panel that the government will soon decide which course of action to take based on the report’s recommendations.

The main price plans currently offered by NTT Docomo Inc., KDDI Corp. and SoftBank Group Corp. charge a fixed fee for 5 gigabytes or so of data. Their rates are largely similar.

A survey by the communications ministry of prices in fiscal 2014 found that the average monthly fee for using mobile phones with a usage of 2 gigabytes of data communication services was ¥7,022. This was the fourth-highest among seven major cities in the world.

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