Customers waiting for Rakuten Inc.’s launch of its 5G services, which were originally planned for June, will have to wait.
Reuters reported that the Tokyo company’s 5G rollout will be delayed by three months due to disruptions caused by COVID-19.
Software testing by the company’s vendors in India has been impacted by a lockdown that has been in place there since March 25, a Rakuten spokeswoman told the news service.
The 5G delay is the latest setback for Rakuten, which was forced to push back the start of commercial services for its mobile network to April, per the report.
Founded in 1997, the publicly traded company is on a mission to grab a share of a market dominated by competitors such as Alibaba, Amazon, Walmart and Dillard’s, and to drive traffic to its eCommerce and financial services.
On Thursday (May 14), the firm reported growing operating losses at its mobile business. Chief Executive Hiroshi (Mickey) Mikitani has said the network cut costs by using cloud-based software instead of proprietary hardware.
While the carrier launched with budget plans, it has fewer base stations than its competitors and its numbers fall behind those of its incumbents. Additionally, Rakuten is paying KDDI Corp. for roaming services.
In an interview with PYMNTS, Michael Zeto, senior vice president at Boingo, a high-speed Wi-Fi and cellular services provider targeting airports, stadiums and other public places, said that despite the temporary disruptions, he doesn’t see the deployment of 5G slowing down. He said it is clear how essential converged communications platforms have become for businesses and consumers.
On Wednesday (May 13), PYMNTS reported that Rakuten plans to acquire InnoEye, an engineering technology company based in Virginia. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. InnoEye CEO Rajeev Gupta said the deal will allow them to contribute to an industry movement and create an “innovative, cloud-based communication platform that is open, scalable and secure.”