Rakuten expands free trial, targets April launch - Mobile World Live

Rakuten expands free trial, targets April launch

23 JAN 2020

Rakuten Mobile expanded a limited 4G trial service and outlined plans to launch full commercial service in April, following steady progress on network construction.

In a statement, the mobile unit of Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten said it opened the second phase of its free supporter programme to 20,000 subscribers. It added more than 3,000 4G base stations were now installed and the number of sites is set to exceed the March 2020 target of 3,432 approved by the Ministry for Internal Affairs and Communications.

The company, which aims to operate the world’s first end-to-end fully virtualised cloud-native network, initiated a limited trial service in October 2019 after delaying its planned launch. It said at the time preparations were underway to expand services.

Marc Einstein, chief analyst at Japan-based research company ITR, told Mobile World Live even if Rakuten Mobile exceeds the 3,400 target, it is far below the level of the other three operators, which took the prime locations long ago.

“I think coverage will be an issue, and I have heard that they might have to give out some sort of signal boosting device to get decent QoS. It will, however, be interesting experiment in terms of how much people are willing to put up with a lower QoS in return for lower costs.”

Rakuten Mobile added feedback from the 5,000 subscribers using the free voice and data service allowed it to make improvements, including expanding the network service area.

The company added its supporter programme will include the beta version of a new dialling app called Rakuten Link, which covers calling and messaging between trial participants.

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Joseph Waring

Joseph Waring joins Mobile World Live as the Asia editor for its new Asia channel. Before joining the GSMA, Joseph was group editor for Telecom Asia for more than ten years. In addition to writing features, news and blogs, he...

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