Rakuten to buy low-cost smartphone operator Freetel
Online retail giant to be Japan's third-largest smartphone operator
TOKYO -- Japanese online retail giant Rakuten will acquire Freetel, the country's sixth-largest smartphone service operator, Rakuten said Tuesday.
Rakuten will spend 520 million yen ($4.7 million) to acquire the budget smartphone business from Plus One Marketing, the operator of Freetel.
Rakuten aims to broaden its customer base with low-cost smartphone services, while expanding its online shopping business.
Budget operators have been in fierce competition for subscribers with major telecom companies, with the number of budget smartphone users now accounting for 10% of all users, prompting reorganization in the industry.