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Telecommunication

SoftBank intensifies mobile price war to match rival KDDI

Japan's telecom carrier offers new $23 data-only option

A man uses his mobile phone in Akihabara district in Tokyo.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japanese mobile carrier SoftBank Corp. will lower the price for its new 20-gigabyte mobile plan to 2,480 yen ($23.40) a month, matching the rate offered by rival KDDI, Nikkei has learned.

SoftBank is expected to make an official announcement on the arrangement, which will be available in March, on Thursday. Reducing mobile fees, which are relatively high in Japan, is a signature issue of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. 

The carrier had originally announced in December that it would launch a new 20GB plan for 2,980 yen, including unlimited calls of up to five minutes. It has decided to remove the calls in order to offer it for a cheaper price instead.

Customers will still enjoy unlimited use of the Line app for instant messages and voice calls, a perk unique to SoftBank users. They will also have the option to add unlimited five-minute calls back onto the plan for an extra 500 yen a month.

The 2,980 yen data plan was modeled after an existing scheme offered by NTT Docomo, another leading Japanese mobile carrier. But KDDI announced its 2,480 yen option in January, triggering speculation that other competitors could follow suit.

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