Japan's disruptor Rakuten ups ante with fresh fee cuts - Mobile World Live

Japan’s disruptor Rakuten ups ante with fresh fee cuts

04 NOV 2020

Disruptive Japanese operator Rakuten Mobile raised the stakes in its low-cost push by eliminating contract sign-up and cancellation fees and introducing a secure AI-based ID verification system.

Mickey Mikitani, chairman and CEO, stated that traditional operator service plans are very complicated with various additional fees, “so we wanted to make them as simple as possible”.

He said its fully virtualised cloud-native network allows it to reduce costs and pass the saving on to customers with its ‘Zero declaration’, which also offers free SIM replacements and transfers.

Since switching carriers in Japan also can be complicated, the boss of the new operator said it is launching eKYC, a secure AI-based ID verification system. Starting 9 November, consumers, after first registering their facial images from their driver’s licence, can use a smartphone to verify their ID for online contracts.

The newcomer is not concerned moves by rivals to lower tariffs, due to pressure from the government, will reduce its price advantage, because the gap is so wide. Its mobile service plan is 71 per cent lower than the competition, he claimed, adding its open network structure enabled it to significantly reduce the required network investment and also lower opex by automating many processes.

CTO Tareq Amin claimed its RAN technology allowed it to improve coverage per site by nearly 30 per cent compared with traditional equipment.

He said its deployment plan is five years ahead of schedule, targeting 80 per cent population coverage in March 2021.

The operator, which launched free mobile service in early April, plans to start charging customers in April 2021.

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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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