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DoCoMo charges steep deposit

Date Posted: 2001-07-28

On July 2, Japan’s oldest and largest mobile phone provider, DoCoMo, enacted a new plan requiring U.S. military personnel to drop a hefty ¥50,000 deposit before their cell phones are activated. This has stirred up a lot of tension and attention and has led many potential customers to turn to the competition, KDDI AU.

Many people are calling AU Shop Sunabe Gate 1 and AU Shop Kin for information on this topic and for details on their products. AU is very thankful for the attention that has come their way due to DoCoMo’s new plan and reassures, “We do not require a ¥50,000 deposit.” DoCoMo made their announcement just after announcing that their upcoming 3G technology, the next generation of cellular technology promising to turn cell phones into even fancier commodities, will be hitting the shelves in October. These new devices will be capable of delivering streaming video and improved web surfing and could lead to a mobile commerce explosion. However, many U.S. servicemen may be moving to the competition before this new technology goes mainstream.

Due to more and more service members skipping out on their cell phone bills, DoCoMo’s ¥50,000 deposit is used to cover telephone bills for people who go on long deployments and exercises and are unable to pay their bill on time. DoCoMo says that the biggest problem they have faced has been with carrier-based Navy personnel, yet the policy still applies to members of all services in Japan. The company claims that service members are defaulting on bills to the tune of about ¥3 million or $24,600 a month. However, many people are outraged and feel that all Americans are being punished for the actions of a few. This is understandable, as only U.S. service members are being charged this bulky activation fee.

Also, due to DoCoMo’s delay in releasing its 3G technology, which was due last May but won’t be released until at least October, it now looks like they will be beaten to the punch by KDDI with the release of their CDMA2000 system later this year.

Many service members feel that DoCoMo’s new hefty deposit has placed them outside of the DoCoMo cell phone market and are moving over to competitor KDDI AU, which doesn’t charge the heavy fee. 3G technology or not, cost is simply the highest priority for most people, as the cost of living in general is high on Okinawa.

KDDI AU is naturally pretty happy with all the attention that has been given to them. As a competitor, they are not as widely used as DoCoMo, but they do have quite the arsenal of hi-tech toys and services to choose from. One such plan is their “Year Talk Plan” which gives an increased monthly discount depending on how much you use their service. AU also offers the “Komi Komi Plan” in which the basic monthly charge will include your cell phone charge at predefined rates. For example, if you sign up for the “Komi Komi Super Plan” your basic monthly charge of ¥13,500 includes 600 free minutes and a ¥15 per minute charge. If you do not exceed the number of free minutes given, no deduction is applied to the basic monthly charge. Finally, AU also offers a “Friend’s Discount Plan” which allows you to sign up and designate three phone numbers as your most frequently called numbers. This plan offers a 50% discount rate on calls to the three predefined numbers.

Many potential cell phone customers are upset by DoCoMo’s latest move, but don’t let the high deposit demanded by the company completely scare you out of the market. Many of DoCoMo’s competitors offer great plans of their own, and you’d be doing well to do a little research on what company has the best plans and features to fit your lifestyle.

AU Year Talk Plan
System Service Plan Basic Monthly Charge Discount 1 Yr 1-2 Yrs 2-3 Yrs 3-4 Yrs

Cdma-One Plan A ¥3,500 ¥500 ¥900 ¥1,100 ¥1,200
Plan B ¥4,600 ¥500 ¥1,000 ¥1,200 ¥1,400
Super Plan ¥13,500 ¥500 ¥2,000 ¥2,600 ¥3,200
Jumbo Plan ¥8,800 ¥500 ¥1,400 ¥1,800 ¥2,200
Large Plan ¥5,800 ¥500 ¥1,100 ¥1,400 ¥1,700
Small Plan ¥3,900 ¥500 ¥900 ¥1,100 ¥1,200

Digital Plan A ¥3,400 ¥500 ¥900 ¥1,100 ¥1,200
Plan B ¥4,400 ¥500 ¥1,000 ¥1,200 ¥1,400
Large Plan ¥5,600 ¥500 ¥1,100 ¥1,400 ¥1,700
Small Plan ¥3,800 ¥500 ¥900 ¥1,100 ¥1,200
B.B. Plan ¥2,700 ¥500 ¥400 ¥600 ¥700

AU Komi Komi Plan

System Service Plan Basic Monthly Charge Free Minutes = ¥ Rate/Minute
Cdma-One Super Plan ¥13,500 600 Minutes = ¥9,000 ¥15
Jumbo Plan ¥8,800 200 Minutes = ¥4,000 ¥20
Large Plan ¥5,800 100 Minutes = ¥3,000 ¥30
Small Plan ¥3,900 35 Minutes = ¥1,400 ¥40
Digital Large Plan ¥5,600 100 Minutes = ¥3,000 ¥30

Small Plan ¥3,800 35 Minutes = ¥1,400 ¥40

*Note from AU: Komi Komi Plan is based on one minute units. For example, if your call lasts 1 minute and 10 seconds, you will be charged 2 minutes worth cell phone call. We advise you to compare your old plan before changing to this plan.

AU Friend’s Discount Plan
This plan offers you a 50% discount rate on those phone numbers you call the most. Just sign up and designate up to three phone numbers. The fixed charge for this service is ¥300 a month.

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