Rakuten Mobile chairman and CEO Mickey Mikitani (pictured) expressed optimism costs had peaked in Q1, as it targeted discontinuation of roaming and converting remaining customers on free plans to paid users in the current quarter.

Mikitani explained with roaming on KDDI’s network dropping to 10 per cent of traffic from 30 per cent in Q1 2021, profitability is expected to start improving in the current quarter. He noted less than half of Rakuten Mobile’s customers joining on free plans were chargeable at end-2021.

Rakuten Mobile’s net loss rose to JPY135 billion ($1 billion) in Q1 compared with JPY97.6 billion in the 2021 quarter, with revenue up 44 per cent to JPY80.4 billion.

MNO subscribers increased 2.1 million to 4.9 million. MVNO users fell from 1.5 million to 770,000. Average data usage per paying customers increased 40.8 per cent, though didn’t disclose the actual monthly volume.

Population coverage reached 97 per cent, with a total of 44,000 LTE base stations deployed.

Mikitani highlighted new pricing plans under the Un-limit VII brand, with unlimited data for JPY2,980 a month. Its lowest-cost plan offers 3GB a month for JPY980.

Rakuten Symphony CEO Tareq Amin said its platform business is now in the delivery stage after booking contracts and expects to record a significant amount of revenue in 2022, with growth accelerating at the beginning of 2023.

Amin noted the company will continue to report consolidated earnings, explaining its mobile business is the testing ground for Rakuten Symphony’s products and services.