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Rakuten to enter mobile phone service business

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Fusion Communications Corp, a telecommunications company of Rakuten Group, on Wednesday announced the launch of the low-cost calling service Rakuten Mobile.

Rakuten Mobile is an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) service provided by Fusion which utilizes NTT Docomo's LTE network. In Rakuten Mobile, customers can choose to sign up for a package featuring a SIM-free device and a low cost voice calling compatible SIM card, or opt for the SIM card alone.

For the first model of SIM-free devices on offer with the Rakuten Mobile service, the ZenFone 5, the latest smartphone from ASUS Japan, has been chosen. The ZenFone 5 features a high-speed processor and a large amount of memory, and with LTE transmission, offers an enjoyable smartphone experience. The device is planned to be delivered to customers who simultaneously sign up for the Rakuten Mobile service and the device after the release date of Nov 8.

For customers with a Rakuten membership and a credit card registered, the identity of the customer can be confirmed with their Rakuten membership data, reducing the time to apply for the service to a minimum of 5 minutes.

Rakuten Mobile will provide four plans for customers. The “Basic” plan offers a maximum transmission speed of 200kbps for a monthly fee of 1,250 yen, the lowest price in the industry. The “2.1GB Pack” offers 2.1GB of high speed data transmission for a monthly fee of 1,600 yen. The “4GB Pack” offers 4GB of high speed data transmission for a monthly fee of 2,150 yen. The “7GB Pack” offers 7GB of high speed data transmission for a monthly fee of 2,960 yen.

Each of these four plans are provided at a lower cost than the voice SIM services offered by other companies.

The devices come with the apps for Viber, the VoIP and messaging service provided by Viber Media, a Rakuten subsidiary, and Rakuten Denwa, the low cost telephone service provided by Fusion, preinstalled, and by using both of the apps, customers can reduce the cost of calling. With Viber, users can chat and make calls to other Viber users for free. In addition, calls to landlines are also free. With the Rakuten Denwa app, calls can be made from the smartphone at a rate of 10 yen for 30 seconds, cheaper than the typical smartphone rate of 20 yen for 30 seconds.

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5 Comments
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This I will be looking into. Hopefully it will capture the market and show other providers that their monopoly is BROKEN!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Hopefully it will capture the market and show other providers that their monopoly is BROKEN!

There's no "monopoly" in the Japanese cell phone industry. There are three major carriers — NTT, Softbank and KDDI — competing with one another.

And the MVNO's are, in essence, controlled by the three major carriers. They piggyback on the networks of the Big Three, and pay handsomely for the privilege.

With MVNO's, you get what you pay for. The monthly rates are low, and the contract terms fairly reasonable (in general, you cancel the service without penalty after four months). But the data-transmission speeds are pathetic. The best I've seen on b-mobile is 300 kbps, intentionally crippled by NTT. I doubt Rakuten will fare much better.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

There's no "monopoly" in the Japanese cell phone industry. There are three major carriers - NTT, Softbank and KDDI

Yeah, and they share a dinner table when deciding what to charge this year. Everything is a "monopoly" in Japan, you obviously don't live here.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Anyone aware of a organisation that handles Telco disputes between consumers and the big three here in JP?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

With MVNO's, you get what you pay for. The monthly rates are low, and the contract terms fairly reasonable (in general, you cancel the service without penalty after four months). But the data-transmission speeds are pathetic. The best I've seen on b-mobile is 300 kbps, intentionally crippled by NTT. I doubt Rakuten will fare much better.

There is plenty of info in Japanese about mvno services and their data speeds. Bmobile is just the one that gaijin have used because they sell services in English. The major mvno providers on docomo, Biglobe, Iijmio, OCN (err, part of NTT themselves) have a rep for achieving speeds up to 10Mbps, with the caveat that they can be slow at peak times like lunchtime on a weekday. I've been getting 4-5Mbps off Umobile since they upgraded their service last week. There is a list of sims on kakaku.com and info on sims and compatibility with different handsets can be found on sites like mvno-navi.com

If anyone out there is worried about data speeds off an mvno, buy a 1GB prepaid sim off the ones that sound good and stick it in any docomo compatible phone or tablet. Test three or four of them with plans that suit your needs. Iijimio has lots of resellers, so you could just go into BIC camera and ask them to show you a speed test in the shop. Most mvnos will give you a phone number (MNP okay) and 3GB a month for under 2,500 yen.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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