The Smart Revolution Towards the Sustainable Digital Society
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The Smart Revolution Towards the Sustainable Digital Society

Beyond the Era of Convergence

Edited by Hitoshi Mitomo, Hidenori Fuke and Erik Bohlin

The objective of this book is to present a comprehensive evaluation of the smart revolution, including its social and economic impacts. It proposes a modern framework to help assess how recent Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can contribute to societies as a whole. The authors offer a guide to how advanced network technologies have led to a greater variety of applications and social networking services. These allow people to connect with each other both at a more personal and global level, and will ultimately herald a new era of ICTs that will shape the “digital society".
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Chapter 11: Problems with international mobile roaming: excessive deregulation works against users’ interests

Hidenori Fuke


International mobile roaming services (IMRS) offer services enabling users traveling abroad to make and receive calls and to send and receive emails to and from their home countries by handsets bought and contracted in their home countries. With the diffusion of IMRS, the number of consumers who complain of unexpectedly high IMRS charges has been increasing in Japan. The National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan (NCAC) has raised concerns about these problems and the Telecommunications Carriers Association (TCA) formed by Japanese telecommunications carriers have published solutions to reduce the problems. Japanese carriers advised customers on IMRS through their websites and leaflets and introduced a flat rate for data communications for overseas use. Despite these measures, new types of problems were reported with the diffusion of Smartphone and tablet terminals with mobile functions. This chapter analyses the IMRS system and it was used as an example to demonstrate that excessive deregulation works against users’ interests. One factor behind the increasing problems on IMRS is the excessive deregulation of cellular services in Japan, although the market is characterised as an oligopoly. If the market is competitive, the matter can be left in the hands of market forces. However the IMRS market is not currently competitive. If market forces are not working, some degree of regulation is necessary to protect users. I conclude that the MIC’s deregulatory measures by having implemented no regulations in the cellular market have gone too far and thus worked against users’ interests.

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