Softbank Lowers IPhone Entry Point in Japan

Japan's Softbank Mobile is making it much cheaper to begin using the iPhone 3G.

The carrier is slashing the minimum monthly charge for using an iPhone from ¥7,280 to ¥2,990 (US$68 to $28) per month from this month. It's doing this by reducing the minimum monthly data communications charge that all iPhone users must pay.

Until now Softbank charged customers ¥980 for a voice plan that included unlimited calls to other Softbank phones between 1 a.m. and 9 p.m., ¥315 for its basic pack of network services and ¥5,985 per month for unlimited data communications.

The new charging system sees Softbank reducing the minimum data charge to ¥1,695 per month. That covers up to 20,175 packets of data after which users will pay per-packet until 71,250 packets, at which time the previous ¥5,985 charge is reached and further data use is not charged. Heavy users will pay the same prices they do now, but light users will be charged less.

The new price plans are perhaps in answer to criticisms voiced by some at the iPhone 3G's launch that the minimum monthly charge for using the phone meant it was too expensive for them.

Additionally, Softbank said it will begin allowing stores to accept reservations for iPhone handsets. Until now it had not done so, although at present supply does not appear to be tight in Japan.

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