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Rakuten looks to cut into Japan's mobile carrier oligopoly

E-tailer plans $5bn infrastructure push, eyes new wireless frequencies

Japanese e-tailer Rakuten, which has diversified heavily in recent years, aims to pour more effort into its mobile service business.

TOKYO -- Online retailer Rakuten aims to become Japan's fourth major mobile carrier, angling for a slice of wireless spectrum and gearing up to invest heavily in infrastructure.

NTT Docomo, KDDI and SoftBank Group control 90% of Japan's cellular market. There are some competitors -- including mobile virtual network operators, which rent network infrastructure -- offering low-cost smartphone plans, but the trio has protected their market share by offering similar inexpensive services. Opening a chink in their armor would usher in a new era of competition, and likely push down fees.

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