There are three particular facets to the rumored changes:
- A flat rate voice calling plan that includes all mobile and landlines for ¥2,700
- Total cost of LTE data and flat-rate voice of ¥5,900 (now it is about ¥8,000)
- A shared family data plan of 10GB for ¥10,000.
Effects throughout industry (if true)
Of course the KDDI and Softbank would introduce completing plans. This is not an attempt to bring in new customers to Docomo, but the opposite – slow the flow of existing ones out.
This would also likely be good news for MVNO users. A bug in the Nexus 5 prevented it from working with 3G contracts, which forced many users of low-priced b-mobile SIMs to switch to LTE plans. While the wholesale pricing of 3G contracts allows for the inclusion of "free" minutes, this isn't the case with the pricing on LTE contracts – all calls cost ¥42/minute.
What makes this most ironic is that even with an LTE contract, calls are routed over 3G anyway because...
Voice over LTE
All Japanese carriers are planning on introducing Voice over LTE (VoLTE). There hasn't yet been a lot of talk about this, though. When it does come, it is expected to result in less expensive voice plans. Tsuda Hiromu at Engadget JP raises the possibility that this pricing is in anticipation of VoLTE introduction.
When you stop and think about it, that makes the most sense.
It's hard to see Docomo doing this if calls are still routed over 3G. So I guess this means we could see VoLTE from Docomo in June. If this does indeed signal the introduction of VoLTE in Japan, it would mean that KDDI and Softbank would be limited on their ability to compete on voice price until they too introduce VoLTE. This in turn means we'll probably be seeing more dumb promotions and unsustainable cash back offers from them until they get up to speed technology wise.