Business / Corporate

Rakuten to tap Tepco infrastructure to help launch mobile carrier business

JIJI

Rakuten Inc. said Tuesday that it will team up with Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. for its planned mobile phone business.

The major cybermall operator will aim to cut costs for the new business, including for base stations, by utilizing existing Tepco facilities under the power supplier’s infrastructure lease services, launched in 1999.

Specifically, Tepco will allow Rakuten to use such facilities as transmission towers, utility poles and telecommunications towers.

Rakuten has applied to the communications ministry for frequency band allocation, aiming to become the nation’s fourth mobile phone carrier with its own communications network following NTT Docomo Inc., KDDI Corp. and SoftBank Group Corp.

Rakuten, which plans to invest up to ¥600 billion to build a communications network for the service, will consider similar tie-ups with other power companies, with the ministry’s decision on whether to allocate a frequency band to the firm expected to be made by the end of this month.

The Tepco tie-up was included in Rakuten’s mobile phone business plan submitted to the ministry. Rakuten plans to prepare base stations by leasing 500 to 1,000 facilities, mainly in the Kanto region, from the Tepco side.

The Tepco group regards the power infrastructure lease services as a business supplementing its core power supply operations.

The main customers of the services are existing mobile phone carriers and local governments, which use Tepco facilities for setting up base stations and installing river-monitoring cameras and other equipment, respectively.