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Japan: Number Portability September 4, 2006

Posted by Jasper in Uncategorized.
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Some time ago I read on article on the Japanese telecommunications market and was surprised to find that there was no mobile number portability (MNP). Japan has always had their own approach to telecommunications, but no number portability?

I thought the introduction of number portability was on the on wish list of every regulator attempting to introduce competition. Economic literature clearly states that switching costs are (generally) detrimental to welfare because they make entry more difficult and markets less competitive. Further, markets where switching costs are significant generally perform less efficiently when compared with markets with low switching costs.

A couple of weeks ago I read a news feed indicating the Japan would introduce MNP in October this year and last week NTT DoCoMo and its eight regional subsidiaries announced how they intend to implement MNP. In their press release NTT DoCoMo state:

Subscribers who switch to DoCoMo from other operators will not be charged an MNP transfer fee, but like all new applicants, must pay a contract handling fee of 3,150 yen (including 5% sales tax). DoCoMo subscribers who move to other operators will be charged an MNP transfer fee of 2,100 yen (including 5% sales tax).

DoCoMo will hold an MNP Reservation Campaign between September 10 to October 23. People who apply to DoCoMo during this period and who conclude the contract between October 24 and December 31, 2006 will be awarded 2,000 DoCoMo points, worth 2,000 yen, which can be applied toward the purchase of DoCoMo handsets or other products.

Okay so that is a start. However, another cost a customer is likely to incur is the cost of a handset because of the incompatibility of the networks operated by the three main mobile carriers.

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