Rakuten Mobile worked out a new three-year roaming agreement with KDDI and its subsidiary Okinawa Cellular, even as it targets significantly reducing roaming costs by the end of 2023.

In a joint statement, the companies said the deal expires at end-September in 2026 and includes areas not covered by a previous agreement, including high-traffic shopping districts in Tokyo’s 23 wards, and Osaka and Nagoya,

KDDI said it will continue to provide roaming services in rural areas and for select indoor locations.

The agreement goes into effect in June and replaces a deal announced in 2018 running to March 2026.

Rakuten Mobile has long targeted discontinuing roaming on KDDI’s network to reduce costs as it expands coverage.

Its 4G networks reached 98 per cent of the population at end-October 2022.

Chairman and CEO Mickey Mikitani said in February it aims to eliminate domestic roaming by end-2023, saving JPY180 billion ($1.3 billion) a year.

More than 95 per cent of data traffic was carried on its own network in Q4 2022, up from 83 per cent in the same quarter of 2021.