Japan’s new fourth mobile network operator (MNO) Rakuten Mobile has announced the launch of its 5G network in a number of regions across the country, with more areas set to follow. Yesterday (30 September), the newcomer said that it would offer customers an enhanced ‘Rakuten UN-LIMIT V’ service plan which gives access to 5G services for the same JPY2,98 (USD28.2) per month fee it was charging with its ‘Rakuten UN-LIMIT 2.0’ plan. A press release confirmed that existing subscribers of the Rakuten UN-LIMIT 2.0 service plan will be able to use 5G services for no additional cost, in 5G service areas providing they own a 5G-compatible smartphone/device, such as the Rakuten BIG and AQUOS R5G. New applicants for the Rakuten UN-LIMIT V plan are also eligible for its promotional campaign ‘offering three million subscribers the first full year of service free of monthly fees’; it launched its 4G LTE network in March 2020.
The MNO’s 5G network footprint covers parts of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Hokkaido, Osaka and Hyogo (as of 30 September 2020), with plans to expand service coverage areas in the short-term. It notes that currently, maximum download/upload speeds are approximately 870Mbps/110Mbps and that, from November this year it hopes this will rise to ~2.8Gbps/275Mbps.
The press release notes that: ‘Rakuten Mobile’s 4G network is the world’s first fully virtualised cloud native mobile network. In its 5G network, excluding the core network, all 5G network functions, such as the virtualised OpenRAN, cloud and OSS, are run on the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP), a telco platform that is based on containers for more flexible and stable development. Rakuten Mobile’s telecommunications platform utilises equipment and software from trusted partners … Rakuten Mobile’s network offers Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G service from 30 September 2020. A Standalone (SA) 5G service is planned for launch in the second quarter of 2021.’