Japan's NTT DoCoMo and South Korea's KT Freetel will launch a service next month that issues local telephone numbers to roaming customers from either country that can be used simultaneously with their home-country numbers.
The service will allow cell phone users to avoid roaming charges altogether and make and receive calls at rates much closer to those of domestic users. It will also mean friends and acquaintances in foreign countries calling a visiting user won't have to pay international phone charges.
For example, NTT DoCoMo customers currently pay
To get started users will have to apply for the service. NTT DoCoMo will charge
Roaming charges are a constant source of complaint for cell phone users and many regular travellers buy prepaid SIM cards when travelling to foreign countries to take advantage of cheaper local rates, however there are hassles. Users don't know the local number until they arrive and buy the card and have to keep recharging it or using it to avoid the account going dormant and the number being switched off.
Under the new service the local numbers will continue to function when the users return home but then receiving incoming calls will be charged at roaming rates. There will be an option to switch off reception of calls on the foreign numbers when back home.