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Cellular phone interest overpowers computer system

Date Posted: 2006-11-02

Softbank Mobile Corporation is apologizing for its computer system crash late last week, but says it is fully restored and capable of handling the high demand for its new cellular telephone services.

First, the company announced that all phone calls between Softbank Mobile cell phones would be charged only a fixed monthly fee of ¥2,880, regardless of the number of calls or their duration.

In addition Softbank slashed tolls to ¥20 per 30 seconds, when its customers call NTT DoCoMo or KDDI numbers, making its prices competitive. A deluge of queries and applicants sent the company’s computer system into a tizzy, unable to accommodate the volume. Softbank agreed its computer system didn’t have enough capacity, but says that problem has been fixed.

Softbank’s action followed new regulations that allow number portability, where phone users could switch from one to another carrier while retaining their old phone number.

“I apologize for causing troubles not only to our customers,” Softbank President Masayoshi told reporters this week, “butd also to DoCoMo and KDDI for bringing about transactional disorder.” He says the company will cut its current prices on calls to other carriers beginning Nov. 10.

Son says there will be no repeat of last weekend’s computer problems, because they’ve beefed up the system. He says he’s just trying to make subscribers happy, and will focus on accepting only new subscriptions, cancellations and repairs through Sunday. Miscellaneous queries and service requests will have to wait until next week.

KDDI doesn’t appear worried. The giant carrier says “we had more than 100,000 who wanted to use our service, while only 25,000 wanted to switch away.” Rival DoCoMo echoed similar sentiments.

Even in Softbank offices it was near chaos last weekend. Service personnel could not keep up with the volume of customers and were forced to close counters as lines formed. At some locations, the queue was more than 100 people.

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