The point of my blog isn't really to discuss cell phones, but I started on it last November, and nobody else is blogging about this stuff in English so here goes.
Softbank White Plan
Softbank, a mobile carrier in Japan, is going after market share. Evidently they have a lot of unused capacity and are trying to lowball the competition. Their latest offering is the White Plan. For 980 yen per month, subscribers to the White Plan can call other Softbank subscribers at no additional cost between 1AM and 9PM. SMS and MMS mail to other Softbank subscribers is also included in the subscription; there is no extra charge. MMS mail to other email addresses cost anywhere between 3 and 210 yen. Voice calls to non-Softbank phones and to Softbank phones between 9PM and 1AM cost 21 yen per 30 seconds (or fraction thereof). Optional add-on services raise the monthly fees, but the only one that I think most people would want is the S! Basic Pack which allows users to send and receive MMS and to browse the web. It costs 315 yen per month.
Softbank Double White Discount Service
Softbank has just introduced a new "discount service" to be rolled out March 1. The Double White service, an add-on to the White Plan, costs 980 yen per month. Charges on calls to non-Softbank phones and to Softbank phones between 9PM and 1AM are halved to 10.5 yen per 30 seconds. I calculate that the "Double" White Plan beats the "Single" White Plan if the subscriber spends more than an average of 47 minutes per month on non-free calls. This isn't a perfect calculation because call times are rounded up to the nearest 30-second interval. but I think it's pretty close. So at 47 minutes of non-free calls, the Double White Plan costs 980 yen (for the basic subscription) plus 980 yen (for the Double White discount service) plus another 1000 yen or so for the discounted calls. For people who call other Softbank users a lot and non-Softbank users for an hour or so per month, the monthly fees will be in the 3000-4000 yen range. Not bad I think.
People often ask what the best carrier and price plan is. The answer is that it depends on how you use your phone: whom you call, how long you talk, whether you use the web a lot, etc.. If you have specific questions, I'll try to answer them. Either write in the comments or email me at misterjeremy @ seminoff dot fastmail dot fm.