Japan's NTT Docomo to make all of its cell phones SIM-free from April 2011

Big shake up in Japan’s cell phone industry (100 million mobile subscribers) today: NTT Docomo, the country’s leading carrier (55 million customers), is planning to make all of its cell phones SIM free as early as April 2011 (the start of the new fiscal year in most Japanese companies).

Docomo’s president Ryuji Yamada told Japanese daily The Nikkei in an interview that all that customers will need to do is to simply replace SIM cards when switching to another carrier. The move is a reaction to guidelines released by Japan’s Communications Ministry in June, according to which the country’s leading cell phone carriers (Docomo, KDDI au, and SoftBank Mobile) should “consider” selling just unlocked handsets in the future.

Docomo offers the best cell phone network in Japan, which is why the company has good chances of getting the most out of such a scenario (even though Docomo’s fee plan is also considered to be relatively costly). The company’s stock at the Tokyo Stock Exchange climbed 2,600 yen from Monday to 139,600 yen.