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KDDI-Rakuten Mobile Roaming Deal: Enhanced Coverage and Reduced Costs

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A new roaming agreement between Japanese mobile operators KDDI and Rakuten Mobile is set to enhance network coverage and connectivity for subscribers. This three-year agreement, effective from June 2023 to September 2026, will see Rakuten Mobile rely on KDDI’s network in high-traffic areas such as shopping districts in Tokyo’s 23 wards, Osaka, and Nagoya. The services will supplement indoor location coverage provided by an existing roaming agreement that covers subways, underground shopping centers, tunnels, and rural areas.

KDDI had initially committed to providing roaming services through its au network to Rakuten Mobile until the end of March 2026. According to Rakuten Mobile, they currently have 98% 4G population coverage. The new agreement signifies an expansion in their partnership aimed at providing subscribers with a more convenient service.

In the announcement, it was mentioned that “utilizing these roaming services allows Rakuten Mobile to provide subscribers with a more convenient service by improving network connectivity rapidly and efficiently, while at the same time limiting its financial burden.” Additionally, the shared use of infrastructure will help KDDI drive effective use of its 4G infrastructure and facilitate the rollout of its 5G network.

Rakuten Mobile also unveiled its Rakuten SAIKYO Plan, which offers unlimited high-speed data usage by removing the previous limit in the ‘domestic roaming partner network area’. The plan, available for new subscriber applications starting from June 1, 2023, replaces the Rakuten UN-LIMIT VII plan that capped high-speed data at 5GB per month.

The deal with KDDI holds significant importance as it helps bridge the gap in Rakuten’s low-frequency spectrum, giving Rakuten access to sub-1GHz spectrum crucial for indoor signal reception. As reported by Light Reading, Rakuten’s capex is now forecasted to be JPY300 billion between 2023 and 2025, down from an initial projection of JPY570 billion. The reduction in capex is partly attributed to the new agreement with KDDI.

This arrangement not only lightens the financial burden for Rakuten Mobile, but it also showcases the considerable progress both companies have made in addressing connectivity challenges. Register for the newsletter for more updates on the latest developments in the telecommunications industry.

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