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Telecommunication

Japan's Rakuten hits 2m subscribers for mobile service

Industry newcomer says customer acquisition hasn't slowed despite price war

Rakuten Mobile began offering full-scale, commercial mobile service using its own network in April. (Photo courtesy of Rakuten Mobile)

TOKYO -- Japanese e-retailer Rakuten on Wednesday announced that it has received more than 2 million total applications for its mobile service since its full-scale commercial launch in April.

The company is a relative newcomer in Japan's mobile industry, long dominated by NTT Docomo, KDDI and SoftBank. It reached 1 million subscribers in late June.

Competition has since been increasing as more-established players cut rates under pressure from Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga for cheaper service. Still, Rakuten's mobile unit said its customer acquisition has not slackened.

The company is waiving its monthly fee of 2,980 yen ($29) for a full year for its first 3 million subscribers. But it was unable to reach its goal of crossing the 3 million mark by the end of 2020.

Rakuten counts roughly 2 million subscribers as a mobile virtual network operator, where it leases phone and data service from other carriers for resale instead of operating the network itself. The company could encourage more of these users to switch to its own service in order to compete with larger carriers.

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