Japan’s Rakuten to delay launch of wireless carrier service by six months: Nikkei

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Rakuten is pictured at the headquarters of Rakuten in Tokyo, Japan, May 15, 2019. REUTERS/Sam Nussey

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Rakuten is pictured at the headquarters of Rakuten in Tokyo, Japan, May 15, 2019. REUTERS/Sam Nussey

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Rakuten plans to push back the start of wireless carrier services by six months, hampered by delays in building out its network, the Nikkei business daily reported on Thursday.

The internet company will offer wireless services to just 5,000 customers without charge from October, when services were originally planned to launch, Nikkei said without citing sources.

Rakuten was not immediately available to comment outside of business hours.

A delay would mark a major setback to billionaire founder and CEO Hiroshi Mikitani’s ambitions to shake up Japan’s telco market.

Rakuten says it has radically cut the cost of building a new network by using cloud-based software and commoditized hardware instead of proprietary wireless radios.

However the internet company has run into delays constructing the network’s base stations and has been told by the telecoms ministry to accelerate the build-out.

Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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