Japanese e-tailer Rakuten has divulged additional details regarding its planned launch of Japan’s fourth mobile network. In the presentation accompanying its latest financial results – covering the second quarter of FY18 – Rakuten noted that it is targeting a commercial launch in October 2019 and seeks to achieve 96% population coverage by the end of fiscal 2025. The company is now optimistic of signing up ten million subscribers by the end of fiscal 2028, scaled down from its initial 15 million projection. However, Rakuten has also reduced its projected rollout budget, from JPY600 billion (USD5.4 billion) to JPY526.3 billion.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) approved Rakuten’s bid to become Japan’s fourth mobile network operator (MNO) in April 2018, issuing the company with 4G-suitable spectrum in the 1.7GHz and 3.4GHz bands. Rakuten will use telecoms towers, power distribution pillars, building rooftops and power transmission towers owned by utility firms to boost its rollout. The new MNO is also expected to leverage the existing Rakuten Mobile MVNO retail network, which now comprises 218 stores across 46 of Japan’s 47 prefectures.