Rakuten Mobile enters towers business

23 December 2021

Japan’s Rakuten Mobile is acquiring a stake in towers operator JTower in a move to roll out its network more quickly and cost-effectively.

The country’s newest mobile operator said it has agreed to buy an undisclosed number of JTower shares from its president and chief executive Atsushi Tanaka for an undisclosed sum.

The deal will “strengthen cooperation and accelerate network development by promoting the utilization of infrastructure sharing,” Rakuten Mobile said, in a statement.

This “capital alliance” will help to promote infrastructure sharing both indoors and outdoors, using shared equipment and towers, mainly in 4G and 5G networks. Rakuten has been using JTower’s Infra-Sharing solutions since the start of 2020, it said, adding Tokyo-based smart poles into the mix in April this year.

“We and Rakuten Mobile will use this capital alliance as an opportunity to deepen our collaboration, and we will promote Infra-Sharing in indoors and outdoors using sharing equipment and sharing towers in the development of 4G and 5G networks, and work to build a more comfortable communication environment at an early stage,” JTower said.

Rakuten recently partnered with Oki Electric and Nagoya University to develop autonomous mobile networks incorporating AI to manage operations independently, as part of Japan’s Beyond 5G R&D Promotion Project.

The operator said the trio aims to work on technologies and applications to enable networks to autonomously respond to diverse service demands while operating stably.

There are also plans to create IoT services for a robot connecting to an autonomous network, Rakuten added.