The Japanese Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry is currently planning to remove SIM locks from cellular phones in Japan. The ministry is requiring mobile phone carriers in the country to unlock their phones which are currently preventing their subscribers from using SIM cards from other networks.
According to a report by Jiji Press, the ministry is set to present the plan to a panel Monday detailing its implementation by the end of the fiscal year.
Previously, the ministry has already set guidelines for removing SIM locks from phones last June 2010, but the progress has been slow because it was not made ?obligatory? for the mobile phone carriers. Therefore, the ministry deemed it necessary to make modifications on the guidelines to be able to implement the resolution.
Major mobile phone carriers in Japan place locks on their handsets and offer deals to their subscribers for bigger discounts. Such deals include texting, calling, and internet use.
In other parts of the world, phone subscribers usually have the option to choose their own network by simply replacing SIM cards using their ?unlocked? mobile phones. They are also available to other payment options such as prepaid loading, rather than being locked in to a single mobile carrier.
Based on reports, long-time subscribers are upset about the expensive monthly subscription rates and the limited use of the internet in their mobiles.
A major implication of this problem is for tourists visiting Japan, as they are unable to purchase local SIM cards for personal use. Thus, they are forced to use expensive data roaming services using their own phone carriers.
The biggest mobile phone carriers in Japan are NTT Docomo, au by KDDI, and Softbank (formerly Vodafone and J-phone). A few smaller carriers are also available which provide specialized services such as prepaid service and mobile internet.
Aside from giving mobile phone users the freedom of switching SIM cards, unlocking mobile phones are expected to bring down telecommunications fees. It?s also a way to promote the use of mobile virtual network operators, which offer cheaper services by using leased networks, according to the Jiji Press report.
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