Rakuten Mobile to launch services using the platinum band in 2024

Rakuten Mobile said its 4G network reached 50,400 base stations as of the end of September

Japanese mobile operator Rakuten Mobile aims to start using spectrum in the so-called platinum band (800/900 MHz) in March 2024 to provide mobile telephony services in the country, the telco’s CEO Tareq Amin recently told a conference call with investors.

“The deployment of platinum band will be done at an extremely low cost. We will utilize and reuse our existing base stations, all of the accessories from batteries, rectifiers, even fronthaul backhaul, dark fiber, where we reuse the existing infrastructure that exists in place. Also, the software for radio access is a technology that is owned by Rakuten Symphony. So thus, we believe that capex is negligible if you compare deployment of platinum band of Rakuten Mobile versus other telecom companies in Japan or across the world,” Amin said.

Rakuten Mobile reported that its 4G network reached 97.9% of the country’s population as of the end of the third quarter of the year. The telco aims its 4G network to reach 99% of the population next year.

Rakuten Mobile’s 4G network reached 50,400 base stations as of the end of September. The operator aims to reach over 60,000 4G base stations across Japan by the end of next year.

Rakuten Mobile also reported that the total number of subscriptions for the MNO and MVNO services surpassed 5.18 million as of the end of Q3 2022.

In the 5G segment, Rakuten Mobile had already deployed 6,440 base stations across the country. In September 2020, Rakuten Mobile launched 5G services in parts of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Hokkaido, Osaka and Hyogo. The service was initially offered via Non-Stand Alone (NSA) 5G architecture.

“In mobile services, revenue from telecommunication charges is expected to increase due to an increase in new subscribers and increased data usage after mobile contracts. In addition, the company will continue to work on improving the quality of its 4G network and developing 5G base stations nationwide,” the company said in its earnings statement.

The telco’s quarterly net loss rose to JPY120.9 billion ($860 million) from JPY105.2 billion in Q3 2021, with revenue up 62.5% to JPY89.3 billion.

Meanwhile, Rakuten Symphony had bookings from 14 customers valued at $3.1 billion.

“In addition to the booked $3.1 billion, we have 69 opportunities that we are also going after that have a value of US$2.7 billion of pipeline,” Amin said.

“We think in the next five quarters, we’re going to work and really put all of our energy and effort to break through the $1 billion target mark for revenue for Symphony,” the executive added.

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