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KDDI fires first shot in portability war

Second placed Japanese mobile operator KDDI has come out with all guns blazing as the country’s wireless players prepare for the introduction of number portability.

KDDI unleashed no less than 12 new handsets Monday, supported by a slew of new data services and faster network speeds. The operator unveiled plans for a mobile-based community to be known as My Page and also outlined its high speed wireless network upgrade.

KDDI will begin to roll out cdma2000 1x EV-DO Revision A from December, dramatically increasing access speeds on its network.

With mobile number portability – a regulatory implementation allowing subscribers to take their number with them when they move to a different operator – due to start October 24, competition in the Japanese market will undoubtedly heat up.

Market leader NTT DoCoMo has not yet fired its first volley in the forthcoming marketing war, but has said that it will not charge incoming number ports above the standard contract handling fee of Y3,150 yen (£14). Although people taking their numbers away from DoCoMo will be charged Y2,100.

KDDI’s standard administration fee for new users is Y2,835, but the cost to port a number away from KDDI is the same as its rival at Y2,100.

The landscape in the market is set to change further with the introduction of new wireless players IPMobile and Softbank, which were awarded spectrum last year, marking the entry of the first new entrants into the country’s mobile industry in more than a decade.

Earlier this summer the Ministry of Internal Affairs & Communication also moved to force Japan’s incumbent cellcos to allow MVNOs access to their networks.

New guidelines will demand that network operators lease spare 2G and 3G capacity to newcomers in a move that will radically shake up Japan’s mobile market as early as next year. It is likely that the new entrants will be all but forced to compete on voice prices in a market where tariffs are already set at Y100 for three minutes.

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