Rakuten Mobile’s 4G infra to cover 96% of Japan’s population by mid- 2021

Japanese operator Rakuten Mobile, a unit of e-commerce giant Rakuten, expects its 4G network to cover 96% of the population in Japan by summer 2021, the company said in a statement.

The operator said that the base station development rate is expected to increase from 750 per month in June 2020 to 1,500 per month by December 2020.

The new entrant also noted that it has a total of 1.6 million applications for its mobile service as of November. “As the number of users increases, roaming costs also increase. Rakuten Mobile will accelerate customer acquisition while taking a balanced approach with regard to timing and the expansion of its mobile network service area,” the company said.

The operator reported an operating loss of JPY57.9 billion ($549.7 million) in the third quarter of the year, up compared to a loss of JPY14.55 billion in the same period of 2019. Revenue increased 48% to JPY45.7 billion.

Rakuten Mobile launched mobile services in Japan in April 2020 through an end-to-end fully virtualized cloud-native mobile network. In September, Rakuten Mobile announced the availability of its commercial 5G service in certain areas across six prefectures of the country.

The service, initially offered via Non-Stand Alone (NSA) 5G architecture, is already available in parts of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Hokkaido, Osaka and Hyogo.

Rakuten Mobile’s President Yoshihisa Yamada previously said that the operator is expecting the 5G to be available in Japan’s all 47 prefectures by end-March 2021. Yamada also confirmed that Rakuten Mobile expects to launch a Stand-Alone 5G network in the second quarter of 2021.

“By expanding the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP) globally, Rakuten aims to evolve from a Japan-headquartered tech company to a global leader in telecom. Based on the fully virtualized cloud native 4G and 5G mobile network that Rakuten has built in Japan, RCP is being developed as a platform for mobile service providers and other telecom businesses,” the carrier said.

“By using RCP, customers can select a combination of the required functions for building a 4G or 5G network and the services to run on the network whenever they are needed as easily as using an app.”

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