Business / Corporate

Ministry urges Rakuten Mobile to speed up preparation of base stations ahead of Japan rollout

JIJI

The communications ministry has instructed Rakuten Mobile Inc. to speed up its rollout of base stations, with the mobile operator slated to launch its service in Japan on Oct. 1, it was learned on Thursday.

The oral instruction was issued on July 17. As of the end of June, the firm was significantly behind on its plan to set up a total of 3,432 base stations — mainly in Tokyo’s 23 special wards and other major cities — by the end of March 2020, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.

The ministry hopes that Rakuten Mobile will launch its full services promptly in order to facilitate price competition in the industry.

“We’ll continue to monitor progress on its development of base stations, aiming to have its services offered properly,” communications minister Masatoshi Ishida told a news conference on Thursday.

Rakuten Mobile submitted a revised base station development plan in late July. “We’ll absolutely be in time for October,” Hiroshi Mikitani, chairman and chief executive officer of its parent, e-commerce giant Rakuten Inc., said at a news conference last week.

The new mobile carrier will offer services on the network of KDDI Corp. in areas not covered by its own network.

Rakuten Mobile plans to expand its services in stages while confirming the stability of communications with limited numbers of subscribers.

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