Rakuten Mobile announced the full commercial launch of its low-cost data plan in Japan today. Priced at 2,980 yen (about $27) per month, the plan gives users unlimited calls and data where Rakuten has its own networks. The company also raised the amount of domestic roaming data in response to increased usage of remote working and online education tools.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency in seven prefectures, including Tokyo, after a new wave of COVID-19 cases in March. The order gives prefectural leaders the power to request closure of stores and businesses considered non-essential. Public schools in Tokyo and surrounding areas closed earlier this year and are not expected to re-open until early May.
In addition to serving increased need for online services during the pandemic, Rakuten Mobile’s pricing may also help it compete against Japan’s largest carriers–NTT Docomo, KDDI and SoftBank. Rakuten Mobile uses what the company says is the world’s first virtualized mobile network, which requires less hardware infrastructure, lowering deployments costs and in turn allowing the company to offer more affordable rates.
Last year, the company said it will have a total of 4,000 edge servers in Japan by the mobile service’s launch. Rakuten Mobile expects its network to cover all of Japan by next March.
Called Rakuten UN-LIMIT 2.0, the company’s current plan gives users 5GB of roaming data in areas where Rakuten Mobile has partners, and unlimited roaming data at a maximum speed of 1Mbps after the limit is reached. The original Rakuten UN-LIMIT plan offered 2GB of domestic roaming, and maximum 128kbps speed.