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Japan's NTT Docomo targets deeper spending cuts

On-site troubleshooting at the mobile carrier's shops will take a hit

TOKYO -- NTT Docomo has identified an additional 20 billion yen ($176 million) in cost cuts for the second fiscal half, primarily in the area of customer service, as it seeks to comply with a government push to lower mobile phone fees.

The cuts will bring the Japanese telecommunications company's projected reductions to 57 billion yen for the six months ending March, surpassing those in the first half ended in September. Its cutbacks for the fiscal year are seen rising from an initially planned 80 billion yen to 100 billion yen.

The lion's share of the new reductions are from in-store repair services. Until now, staff has made the call on how best to repair customers' phones. Under new guidelines, the company will send customers' devices straight to the manufacturer. Some repairs that had been free of charge will now carry a cost.

Docomo has actively hunted for costs to cut in certain areas, including network improvement and maintenance, as well as in commissions to distributors. It slashed 120 billion yen of expenditures in fiscal 2014 and 240 billion yen in fiscal 2015.

The government initiative to lower wireless fees began in September 2015 with a remark by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that reducing the burden of those charges on households is a major issue.

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