The Fair Trade Commission is considering carrying out a survey of the cellphone market including smartphones to uncover possible unfair business practices, FTC Secretary-General Shuichi Sugahisa has said.
The antitrust watchdog conducted a similar survey in 2018 following the market entry by low-cost smartphone service providers. In the survey, the FTC found carriers’ plans for customers to buy smartphones in 48 monthly installments problematic because the system could make it difficult for users to cancel their contracts.
If questionable practices are found in the planned survey, the FTC would urge carriers concerned to stop them. The survey may benefit Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s goal of cutting mobile phone fees as a result.
The new survey will come on the heels of the commercial launch of 5G ultrahigh-speed wireless communications services and the full-fledged mobile phone market entry by Rakuten Mobile Inc., a unit of major cybermall operator Rakuten Inc., both in spring this year.
The FTC will also examine whether problems detected in the 2018 survey were corrected while trying to figure out changes in the competitive environment and challenges in terms of mobile phone-related policies.
“If an environment for fair competition is prepared, that will result in mobile phone services becoming affordable,” Sugahisa told a news conference on Wednesday, referring to the Suga administration’s goal of achieving lower fees.