Rakuten Mobile attracts 2.5 million mobile customers

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Japanese mobile operator Rakuten Mobile announced that 2.5 million customers had applied for a free unlimited mobile offer by Feb. 8.

The mobile unit of e-commerce giant Rakuten recorded revenue of JPY60.7 billion ($577.9 million) in the fourth quarter of 2020, up 16.8% year-on-year.

The company launched commercial services on its own infrastructure in April 2020, followed by a 5G launch in September.

“As Rakuten is accelerating the buildout of base stations and making efforts to expand its network coverage and improve network quality, 4G population coverage in December 2020 surpassed 70%. With the expansion of the Rakuten network area and an increase in subscribers, costs related to base station construction and domestic roaming outside the Rakuten network area have also increased,” the company said.

“For its buildout of 4G base stations, Rakuten aims to reach 96% population coverage and is increasing the density of base station coverage in order to improve network quality and support the increase in new users expected going forward, with plans for the construction of around 44,000 base stations.”

Rakuten also noted that the development of the Rakuten Communications Platform, a platform aimed at offering solutions and services for the deployment of virtualized networks at speed and low cost by governments, telecom companies and enterprises around the world is underway. Rakuten Mobile has already signed MoUs with Telefónica, to cooperate on promoting Open RAN, and STC to collaborate on strategic mobile technology.

5G MoU with Ligado Networks

In related news, Rakuten Mobile and Ligado Networks announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) where the two companies will collaborate to create a blueprint for Ligado’s 5G mobile private network solution that leverages the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP). Under the MoU, the companies will start efforts in Q1 2021 with ecosystem partners and vendors to establish a timeline for the implementation of network trials and blueprint for solutions.

“With 5G being introduced by mobile network operators around the world, some of the most innovative use-cases will be in 5G mobile private networks. 5G brings ultra-low latency and ultra-high bandwidth enabling unprecedented experiences and services and unique applications in private networks,” said Tareq Amin, CTO of Rakuten Mobile. “We are very excited to collaborate with Ligado Networks and offer the Rakuten Communications Platform as the foundation for a next-generation of communications infrastructure for enterprises.”

Under the MoU, the companies will define a strategy that leverages Rakuten’s ecosystem position to advance the jointly developed 5G mobile private network solution and accelerate overall L-Band commercial readiness among network hardware and software providers. Ligado Networks and Rakuten Mobile will collaborate with enterprise customers on advanced use cases and the final technology stack for a launch of the 5G mobile private network offering.

Ligado is currently a network operator of mobile satellite service (MSS) to government and commercial customers across North America. The Reston, Virginia-based firm is enhancing its MSS offerings and developing new 5G services for enterprise customers across the public safety, manufacturing, agriculture, and other critical infrastructure sectors. 

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