Rakuten Mobile Inc announced on Wednesday that it would be launching its 5G service for ¥2,980 per month.
Called Rakuten Un-Limit V, the flat-rate plan is the same price as Rakuten's current 4G service, Rakuten UN-LIMIT, and will be offered at no extra charge. Current Rakuten users with a 5G enabled device may switch to the plan immediately using the Rakuten Mobile App or be upgraded automatically between Oct 12 and Nov 30.
The 5G coverage area includes Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Osaka, Hyogo and Hokkaido. All 47 prefectures are planned by March 2021.
Rakuten Chairman and CEO Hiroshi "Mickey" Mikitani said that soaring mobile rates have become a national topic and that Rakuten Mobile is more than 70 percent cheaper than its competitors.
"Simply put, on top of 4G, 5G can be used free of charge," said Mikitani. "In 5G areas, whatever the speed, you can use all the data that you can."
Major mobile companies in Japan charge monthly rates exceeding ¥7,000 and fees for using 5G. In 2019, weak pricing competition prompted Japan's government to implement a bill to cut mobile phone fees and encourage its saturated market.
Rakuten believes if more users join Rakuten Mobile, mobile prices, in general, could lower to match.
Executive Vice President and CTO Tareq Amin said Rakuten could offer such competitive rates due to reducing the cost of its mobile base stations.
"We have innovated an architecture that was proprietary [and] absolutely unwilling to evolve," said Amin.
"We think this is the most crucial component for industry disruption. And we wholeheartedly believe that this is just the beginning of what you're going to see with Rakuten and others as we embrace into this technology."
Along with its 4g/5G flat-rate plan, Rakuten announced "Rakuten Big," its first 5G enabled smartphone. The phone, priced at ¥69,800, features a 6.9-inch screen, a Snapdragon 765G processor, 6GB of ram, 128GB of storage, and a 64mp camera.
Rakuten Big went on sale from Wednesday and is available from Rakuten's online store and the Rakuten Mobile store in Futako-Tamagawa.© Japan Today