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Japanese Satellite Mobile Services to Be Introduced by Rakuten Mobile by 2026

With AST SpaceMobile as a partner, Rakuten Mobile has revealed its ambitious aim to improve mobile coverage throughout Japan by teaming to deliver satellite-to-mobile services by 2026. Through the use of AST SpaceMobile’s space-based cellular broadband network, this project seeks to provide direct smartphone access to text, phone, and data services. This development is a reaction to Japan’s growing demand for dependable communication solutions, particularly in rural or mountainous locations and areas vulnerable to natural disasters.

Japan’s geographic difficulties and susceptibility to natural disasters highlight the significance of robust communication networks. By using Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites to provide constant mobile connectivity, Rakuten Mobile’s programme aims to overcome these issues. When traditional base stations and network infrastructure are compromised, as was the case during the 2024 Noto Peninsula Earthquake when damaged routes delayed rescue responses, this technology becomes very important.

Rakuten Group Chairman and CEO Mickey Mikitani, who also serves as Chairman of Rakuten Mobile, reaffirmed the company’s dedication to addressing Japan’s particular connection issues. Rakuten Mobile hopes to guarantee universal mobile access through its partnership with AST SpaceMobile, improving safety and communication for locals in isolated and disaster-prone locations.

Promising outcomes have already been seen from Rakuten Mobile and AST SpaceMobile’s partnership, as two-way voice calls between Midland, Texas, and Tokyo, Japan, have been made successfully using regular cellphones. This accomplishment represents a critical turning point in mobile satellite communication and was made possible by collaboration with Vodafone and AT&T. Furthermore, the world’s first 5G connection between a regular smartphone and a satellite has been made possible by AST SpaceMobile’s testing programme, which has already reached initial download speeds of 14 Mbps.

Rakuten Mobile and AST SpaceMobile’s ongoing exploration of satellite communications has the potential to transform the way in which connectivity is preserved in remote areas and during disasters, guaranteeing that mobile users will always have access to connectivity regardless of obstacles on Earth.

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