Having spent years outside the 700~900Mhz range offering poor cell reception to its subscribers, Softbank has finally obtained the license to operate within the platinum band range, which is scheduled to begin this July 25.
This means, no more getting cut off in the middle of a conversation on the Shinkansen (bullet train), which spells trouble for the nation’s telecommunications powerhouse, NTT Docomo. Since the launch of the iPhone whose exclusive dealership was awarded to Softbank, Docomo has seen its market share drop a significant percentage. Softbank, having been targetting students with its student-only 3-year free subscription plan and offering all subscribers, student or not, 20 hours of free talk time between Softbank users from 1am to 9pm daily, has been at the chasing end of the pack partly due to its relatively weak signal strength. But even without the student plan, its regular subscription rates are still much cheaper than Docomo and slightly cheaper than AU. While AU has regained a portion of their market share with the sale of iPhone4S, Docomo, with its humongous monthly bills, has become the only one of the Big 3 in support of unlocking phones to allow cross-carrier usage. Little wonder why.
We’ll see how Softbank’s share of the market changes with the launch of its platinum band service this summer. Not that I’m going to remember following up on that.