Rakuten Mobile CTO Tareq Amin (pictured) credited its low-cost greenfield operation with shaking up the pricey Japanese mobile market, telling a conference its cloud-based model can easily be adopted by other operators to bring down costs by simplifying network requirements.
“If you look at the market before Rakuten’s entry, Japan was one of the most expensive countries in terms of data consumption. Today, it is one of the lowest.”
The company offers subscribers up to 1GB of data for free and unlimited data for about $27 per month, forcing the three incumbents to reduce tariffs on unlimited plans and introduce offers for low data users.
Speaking at the Open RAN World Digital Conference organised by Light Reading, Amin said consumers have “benefitted enormously from the destruction” open RAN and cloud technologies have enabled.
He explained that when he joined Rakuten Mobile, he advised chairman and CEO Mickey Mikitani it would be difficult to compete if it built a network on a platform architecture identical to other Japanese operators.
“We had to approach this with very different thinking…one that delivers an efficiency level that maybe the world hadn’t heard of, and obviously the cost reduction was critical to our business plan”.
The operator proved open RAN technology is a viable alternative that delivers on cost efficiency and automation, he said: “We are happy with what we achieved today and in a good position on 4G and 5G.”
Amin insisted its technology and business models can be replicated by other operators, noting 15 tier-1 operators around the world have signed contracts to use the Rakuten Communications Platform, its fully virtualised, cloud-native mobile network set-up.
He noted with the cloud as a foundation, adding 5G to its LTE network had not been particularly complex. “To add a 5G core is simple, I don’t have to worry about how to deploy this because it is part of my platform architecture.”
He noted its 5G rollout is going fast in terms of deploying on both mmWave and sub-6GHz: it had deployed 15,000 sites by end-March.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back