Mobile

Amazon will start selling prepaid wireless in Japan — this was inevitable

Amazon is already one of the best places to land a great smartphone deal online, so of course the retailer is stepping into the wireless resale market — starting with Japan.

Amazon will soon start selling prepaid SIM cards for Japan’s NTT Docomo LTE network as an MVNO, or mobile virtual network operator (like Boost and Virgin Mobile), the Verge reports based on earlier reporting from Nikkei. This marks the first time that a foreign company will offer wireless service within Japan, and for Amazon it’s also a big step towards controlling the entire wireless ecosystem.

The prepaid SIM cards will offer 500 megabytes of data and sell for a flat-rate fee of ¥1980 (around $25). With typical Japanese smartphone contracts going between $63 to $75 a month, according to the Verge, the prepaid cards would be a much better deal for consumers who don’t need to use a ton of data. The cards will function on NTT Docomo’s phones and tablets, as well as devices like the iPhone built to “foreign specifications.” Amazon is also teaming up with Docomo for the summer launch of its Kindle e-readers.

I’ve honestly been counting down the days until Amazon decided to jump into the wireless business on its own. At this point it’s not too difficult for companies to snap up extra bandwidth from larger carriers, and Amazon is in a unique position to sell cheap mobile devices as well. If these prepaid SIM cards take off in Japan, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them quickly spread to Europe and other areas where SIM-swapping is common, and then eventually bundled with cheap devices in North America and the rest of the world.

We’ve asked Amazon for more details on the news, and will report when we hear back.

SIM card image via Luciano Belviso/Flickr


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