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Softbank to undercut rivals, offer most mobiles free of charge

Darren Murph

Softbank -- the folks who could be (but probably aren't) in cahoots with Apple -- is pulling out all the stops to lure customers away from those larger carriers in Japan. Soon after "vowing" to undercut any prices offered by rival firms NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, the little guy has now gone one step further by offering free handsets at the point of sale. Of course, there's always a catch, and customers looking at high-end phones will be faced with "a monthly fee" for the luxury of toting the latest and greatest, and will also be forced to sign a "one or two year" contract. But before you get too down on your luck, Softbank estimated that a "digital TV phone" would only run customers about ¥390 ($3.30) per month, which seems awfully cheap when Verizon somehow charges even more to automatically restore your contact list.

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