Rakuten to introduce cheap smartphone service in Japan


Japanese e-commerce brand Rakuten Inc has announced it will launch a budget smartphone service that costs roughly a third of the standard monthly fees that Japan’s three main operators charge, in a move that will intensify price competition.

In the country smartphone handsets and contracts are considerably more expensive than other markets globally, which inspired Rakuten, as well as other brands Internet Initiative Japan and Aeon to put new services on offer, and even form a partnership/evolve into a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). The MVNO service offered by Rakuten will cost approximately 2,200 yen ($20) a month, and will include a data plan but no actual handset.


The standard price currently is around 6,500 yen a month at the three main Japanese companies in this sector, NTT DoCoMo Inc, KDDI Corp's au and SoftBank Corp. This includes a basic voice and data plan.

Aeon claimed in March that it would charge 2,980 yen a month for a phone at two-year contract. MVNOs presently make up around 5 per cent of the mobile sector in Japan, and rent access to the networks of other companies.

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