Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on T Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on Twitter, Angel List, LinkedIn.
Rakuten is following in the footsteps of Amazon, chief-rival to its Kobo e-reader, after it partnered with Internet provider eAccess to introduce a data-only LTE mobile service that will go live in Japan from October 1.
Amazon leapt into the space in May when it unveiled plans for data-only SIM cards in partnership with local MVNO Japan Communications. Rakuten is taking it to the next level with its own service, which will be run by its newly established ‘Rakuten EMobile’ joint venture.
The online commerce giant — which saw revenues of $2.56 billion in the first half of 2012 — is ploughing $6.3 million (500 million yen) into the new company, taking a 51 percent stake, with eAccess owning the remaining 49 percent.
The fruits of their cumulative labor will be a high-speed data-only service — dubbed ‘Rakuten Super WiFi’ — that will run on eAccess’ six-month-old LTE network. Prospective customers can sign up now and will join the service once it launches.
Rakuten is optimistic that the coming together will leverage the best of both companies; the mobile network and service delivery know-how of eAccess and its own services and content, which are used by around 78 million in Japan.
“Rapid growth in Internet use along with the use of mobile devices to access social networks and movie streaming services has led to the skyrocketing of demand for high-speed and high-capacity mobile data communication services that allow access to the Internet anywhere, at any time,” a company announcement reads.
Kenichiro Nakajima, senior executive officer and CMO of Rakuten, is heading up the operator, and its four-man board is comprised of two representatives from each investor.
There’s no word on pricing or how/whether the service will link to Rakuten’s Kobo readers, which recently launched in Japan with plenty of controversy. We’ve reached out for more details and will add any further information as we get it.
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