Business / Tech

Tokyo mobile users pay highest fees for heavy mobile data usage

KYODO

The monthly fee for heavy mobile data usage in Tokyo of ¥8,175 ($76) for 20 gigabytes was the highest charged by major carriers in six of the more connected cities in the world as of March, a communications ministry report showed Tuesday.

The fee in New York, equivalent to ¥7,990, was the second highest among the six, which included London, Paris, Seoul and Dusseldorf in Germany. The lowest monthly fee — equal to ¥2,700 — was in London, according to the report.

As for data usage up to 2 and 5 gigabytes, New York’s monthly charges were the highest at about ¥6,302 and ¥6,865, respectively, while Tokyo ranked second at ¥5,150 and ¥6,250. For all the categories of 20, 5 and 2 gigabytes, Seoul ranked third, followed by Dusseldorf, Paris and London.

The report by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications compared the charges of mobile phone carriers with the largest market share in each city. The report used NTT Docomo Inc.’s charges for Tokyo, Verizon Wireless for New York and Telefonica U.K. Ltd. for London.

Aiming to lower Japan’s relatively high mobile phone charges, the government last October banned the carriers’ practice of charging high data usage fees in exchange for subsidizing device purchases.

Prior to the introduction of the ban, NTT Docomo cut its monthly charges in June 2019. However, the ministry report showed charges in Tokyo remain high compared with other world cities.

Communications minister Sanae Takaichi vowed at a news conference Tuesday to realize “simple and low-priced mobile phone charges” in Japan by ensuring fair competition among carriers.

She said the full-fledged entry of Rakuten Inc. into the mobile phone market is expected to intensify competition among carriers.

In April, Rakuten launched a full-scale mobile phone service in Japan with drastically lower fees, taking on bigger rivals including KDDI Corp. and SoftBank Corp.

Rakuten’s single fee plan charges ¥2,980 per month for unlimited domestic calls and data usage in Tokyo and some other urban areas.

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