Rakuten’s CEO and chairman Hiroshi Mikitani confirmed this week that the e-commerce giant will deploy 5G mobile services on a commercial basis in June 2020, just eight months after it enters the Japanese mobile market as the new fourth player in October this year. In an interview at the Rakuten Optimism conference in Yokohama, Mikitani told CNBC that the new Rakuten Mobile venture will initially roll out its 4G LTE network before adding 5G capabilities soon after. ‘We are going to deploy what we call mobile edge computing. In Japan, we are going to have over 4,000 edge servers,’ Mikitani said. Edge servers, the CEO notes, are a type of computing architecture that are designed to improve network efficiencies and reduce latency.
Rakuten’s deployment strategy focuses on an end-to-end fully virtualised, cloud-native mobile network – unlike traditional mobile networks that rely on the installation of expensive hardware – theoretically making it cheaper and easier for it to build out the new mobile network. ‘This is going to completely transform the network platform from hardware-dependent to software – which is much more flexible, much more scalable, much more economical, and will be able to provide the platform not only to Japan, but everywhere in the world,’ he is quoted as saying.