• JIJI, Kyodo, Reuters

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Rakuten Inc. Chairman and President Hiroshi Mikitani said Tuesday that his company will start full-scale mobile phone services April 8.

Rakuten’s full entry into the Japanese mobile phone market is expected to trigger severe price competition with the three main carriers — NTT Docomo, KDDI and SoftBank. Rakuten set its only mobile plan at ¥2,980 per month, or less than half of its major rivals’ offerings.

The company is providing a free mobile phone service to 3 million users for a year in order to confirm the stability of its mobile communications system, Mikitani said.

Rakuten was initially scheduled to fully start its mobile phone service last October but ended up postponing the plan due chiefly to a delay in setting up base stations.

Rakuten has attracted global attention as it says it has radically cut the cost of network construction by using cloud-based software and commoditized hardware instead of proprietary equipment.

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