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Business trends

Under pressure, Japan's mobile carriers simplify plans

Lower monthly fees replace hardware discounts, but customers find little savings

The inclusion of phone costs in monthly charges has allowed consumers to buy the latest smartphones for a fraction of the actual price. (Photo by Rie Ishii)
The inclusion of phone costs in monthly charges has allowed consumers to buy the latest smartphones for a fraction of the actual price. (Photo by Rie Ishii)

TOKYO -- Japan's three largest wireless carriers will simplify mobile contracts to encourage competition and fairness, but their changes are unlikely to answer demands from top government officials to lower prices for consumers.

SoftBank Group, KDDI and NTT Docomo intend to stop including device payments within their monthly service plans, a common practice that lets them offer steep discounts on phones. In some cases, subscribers have been able to get their hands on devices costing almost 100,000 yen ($900) for just 10,000 yen or so.

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