TOKYO (Reuters) – Rakuten Inc said on Monday it won government approval to offer mobile services as the Japanese e-commerce company expands its business into a market dominated by three major carriers.
Rakuten, which has also entered new areas such as online securities trading, aims to start offering mobile services in October 2019.
The government hopes a new entrant will intensify competition in a market led by NTT DoCoMo Inc, KDDI Corp and SoftBank Group Corp.
The last serious attempt by a Japanese company to break into their ranks was by eMobile, which entered the market in 2007. It gained four million subscribers before it was bought by SoftBank in 2013.
Rakuten is aiming to secure at least 15 million subscribers. By comparison, No. 3 carrier SoftBank has about 39 million subscribers.
(Reporting by Ritsuko Ando and Sam Nussey; Editing by Vyas Mohan)