Japan’s Rakuten 5G launch delayed due to coronavirus

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Tokyo – Japan’s Rakuten Inc Friday said the launch its 5G planned for June has been delayed by three months due to disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

“Software testing by Rakuten’s Indian vendors has been impacted by a lockdown in place there since March 25,’’ a spokeswoman said.

The delay is the latest setback for Rakuten, which forced to push back the start commercial for its mobile network to April.

Rakuten is trying to carve out a share a market currently dominated by three competitors and drive traffic to its ecommerce and financial services.

Thursday, the firm reported growing operating losses at its mobile business.

Chief Executive Hiroshi Mikitani has said the network cut costs by using cloud-based software instead proprietary hardware.

The carrier launched with aggressively priced plans.

However, it has fewer base stations than its competitors and numbers trailing incumbents, and Rakuten is paying KDDI Corp for roaming services.

Rakuten has not disclosed how many user numbers it has garnered during the first few weeks since the launch, increasing uncertainty over its performance as the coronavirus halts economic activity across Japan.