Rakuten Mobile’s bottom-line was hit by higher network deployment costs and domestic roaming fees during Q1, though subscriber uptake accelerated after it introduced a new data plan.
Chairman and CEO Mickey Mikitani (pictured) used an earnings call to explain a rise in capex associated with deploying Rakuten Mobile’s cloud-based network would pave the way to future profitability. He reiterated goals to achieve break-even and a customer base of 7 million in 2023.
Rakuten Mobile said a flexible data plan launched in January boosted customer applications, which topped 4 million in early May. During Q1 it stepped-up efforts to expand network coverage and improve quality, with capex and net loss expected to decrease in 2022.
Mikitani said direct sales of iPhones is “a huge plus”, with Apple users tending to consume more data.
The mobile unit’s operating loss grew from JPY31.8 billion ($347.7 million) in Q1 2020 to JPY94.1 billion ($872.2 million), with revenue up 44.6 per cent to JPY56.7 billion, albeit this is not directly comparable because Rakuten Mobile launched as a full MNO in April 2020.
It had a total of 1,000 5G base stations across all regions of Japan and plans to introduce standalone services in the current quarter.
The group’s net loss attributable to shareholders fell from JPY35.3 billion to JPY25.1 billion, on revenue of JPY391.5 billion, up 18.1 per cent.
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