Vodafone K.K announced today the company plans a staggered roll out of three new flat rate services: “Mail Flat-rate,” “Dual Packet Flat-rate” and “Family Call Flat-rate.” According to the company, these plans target all users from hard-core email addicts to fast-dialing families. Starting 1 October, the Family Call Flat-rate will make it possible for family members to call each other as often as they like with an additional flat-rate option that has a total fixed monthly charge of 315 yen. Matthew Nicholson, Vodafone Japan International Media Relations Manager, commented to WWJ: “This is the first time for such a comprehensive family call flat rate to be available in Japan.”
Mail Flat-rate gives customers with Vodafone 3G handsets freedom to send and receive as much mail as they like while in Japan for a fixed monthly charge of 840 yen including tax.
Dual Packet Flat-rate is a based-on-usage fixed monthly charge (1,050 yen with tax up to a fixed charge 4,095 yen with tax) two-tier revision to the Packet Free packet communications flat rate introduced in November 2004 (at 4,095 yen). In addition, customers on two price plans for light users (Value Pack and Light Call Pack) will also be able to sign up for Dual Packet Flat-rate. Both Mail Flat and Dual Packet rates begin accepting applications from 1 June.
Japan has been notorious for high connection fees but rival cellcos KDDI and DoCoMo provide some flat rate options as well. DoCoMo offers 3G FOMA i-mode mobile Internet service and i-mode mail for a flat monthly rate of 3,900 yen for subscribers to the basic monthly plan. KDDI?fs 3G flat-rate plan starts from just 2,100 yen. The 4,410-yen package allows unlimited use of EZweb and E-mail.
Corporate worries over implementation of flat rates have centered on loss of fatted-calf connection fees. Ironically, what providers here are finding is that customers are taking their time to read, shop, listen and watch on their mobile 3G funset, thus boosting overall ARPU despite the flat-rate limit.
In the recent press launch of the EZ Book Land portal, KDDI stated that “premium content revenue had increased dramatically.”
Current ARPU (average revenue per user) from 3G WIN subscribers stands at 1,070 yen compared to only 310 yen from 1X 2G users.
– WWJ Editors