The Nikkei Asian Review reports that Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten has concluded a deal with incumbent mobile network operator (MNO) KDDI (au), allowing it to use the latter’s 4G LTE network to provide mobile services from its launch next year, and up until March 2026. The deal gives fledgling cellular unit Rakuten Mobile Network time to fully deploy its own network infrastructure across Japan. In return, KDDI will be able to use Rakuten’s e-payments and logistics infrastructure.
The newcomer received approval for its ‘Special Base Station Deployment Plan’ in April 2018 and aims to launch its first services as a MNO in October 2019. It recently carried out 5G trials in partnership with Nokia and Intel as it prepares to shift from being an MVNO to building out its own network. In June this year, Rakuten used the Nokia AirScale base station and the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform for the technology trial in Kanagawa Prefecture in Japan to evaluate fundamental 5G capabilities in the 28GHz frequency band.
Commenting on the tie-up, KDDI President Makoto Takahashi said: ‘If we did not team up with Rakuten, they probably would have partnered with NTT DOCOMO … Rather than that situation, it is better if we team up with them ourselves.’