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Japan has decided that affordable unmetered Net access is a priority if it is to excel in the digital world. The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications said that unmetered access must be introduced by next year so that ordinary people can use the Net without worrying about the size of their telephone bills. It wants families to be able to log onto the Net and stay put for as long as they like, all for around £30 a month. In a bold move that shows a clear lead to other world governments, Japan’s politicians have decided that the wider social benefits of unmetered access far outweigh those of shareholders. Earlier this month, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) pre-empted government calls and said it would introduce flat monthly local phone charges for Net access by the end of the year. With more strings attached than the puppet cast of Thunderbirds, NTT said the roll-out of such a service would be limited - only applying to ISDN users in a small number of areas. NTT president Junichiro Miyazu told Asia Pulse: "We cannot introduce a flat-charge system nation-wide simultaneously." "We will start on a limited scale and seek user feedback," he said. Predictably, he also warned of the strain on Japan's telephone network if unmetered access were to be introduced. The Department of Trade and Industry was asked to comment but failed to return the call before press time. ®

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