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Rakuten Inc. got the green light Friday from a government panel to become the nation’s fourth major wireless carrier, granting the e-commerce giant access to a fierce competition for subscribers alongside industry heavyweights who have long dominated the cellular market.

An Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry advisory board approved Rakuten’s application for a 4G mobile license, which the company had submitted in February. The decision is expected to be formally endorsed by the ministry at a later date, marking the first time a new entrant has been approved since eAccess — now a part of SoftBank Group Corp. — was granted bandwidth 13 years ago.

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