ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon Twitter
Telecommunication

Missed connections: Rakuten's new mobile service hits snag

Almost 20% of users in trial fail to link up to network with limited range

Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani holds a Rakuten Mini smartphone at a news conference in Tokyo on Sept. 6.

TOKYO -- Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten, now the country's fourth mobile carrier, has been hit with a stream of support requests from users unable to connect to its network in the first few weeks of its wireless service trial.

Of the more than 4,500 customers who received SIM cards as of Tuesday, nearly 20% have yet to connect, the company said.

This marks a rocky start for Rakuten, which seeks to break into a market largely controlled by the big three of NTT Docomo, KDDI and SoftBank. The e-tailer previously postponed a full rollout of its service until April, six months after the original start date, amid delays in building out its network infrastructure.

Many of the connection failures owe to customers being out of range, according to Rakuten, which has responded by increasing staffing at its help desk and explaining the coverage situation to users. Apparently, some phones are unable to connect to the network from indoor locations despite being within the coverage area.

The company has said it plans to have 3,432 base stations installed by March, but a government-run website shows only about 1,700 in place now. Having fewer base stations makes it harder to maintain a stable connection. Rakuten uses KDDI's network for roaming service in areas that it cannot reach, including underground and in tall buildings.

During the trial period, the service is available to only 5,000 people in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Kobe. It will remain free of charge until the end of March 2020.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends July 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more