Rakuten Mobile Plans to Provide Satellite-to-Mobile Service in Japan

Rakuten Mobile partners with AST SpaceMobile to introduce satellite-to-mobile service in Japan, aiming to overcome geographical challenges and enhance network coverage.


  • Rakuten Mobile collaborates with AST SpaceMobile for satellite-to-mobile service in Japan.
  • EO satellites crucial for communication during natural disasters like the Noto Peninsula Earthquake.
  • Successful completion of two-way voice calls using LEO satellites between Texas and Tokyo.

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Rakuten Mobile Plans to Provide Satellite-to-Mobile Service in Japan
Rakuten Mobile announced its plans to provide satellite-to-mobile service in Japan, targeting the commencement of the service in 2026, in collaboration with AST SpaceMobile. The telco aims to provide connectivity across Japan in the future, including mountainous regions, remote islands, and areas struck by natural disasters, stating that this is a step closer to the realization of broader network coverage through space-based technologies.

Also Read: Rakuten Mobile Surpasses 6 Million Mobile Subscribers

Space-Based Connectivity in Japan

Additionally, Rakuten Mobile said the actual timing of the service launch and its scope is uncertain and subject to several factors, including those beyond the control of Rakuten and AST SpaceMobile.

Rakuten Mobile highlighted the increasing need for space-based communication services using Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites in Japan due to the high risk of natural disasters and the presence of many remote islands and mountainous regions.

The company mentioned that during the Noto Peninsula Earthquake of 2024, recovery routes were cut off, leading to a delay in emergency response efforts.

Also Read: Rakuten Mobile to Expand Network Using 700 MHz Spectrum

LEO Satellites Connectivity

Rakuten Mobile has invested in AST SpaceMobile under a partnership launched in March 2020, and both companies have been collaborating on a planned space-based mobile service to be provided in Japan in the future, utilizing LEO satellites to enable direct communication with commercially available smartphones.

Following the launch of AST SpaceMobile's LEO test satellite, BlueWalker 3, in September 2022, Rakuten Mobile and AST SpaceMobile completed two-way voice calls in April 2023, connecting Midland, Texas, to Tokyo, Japan, using standard, unmodified smartphones, the official release said.

Also Read: AST SpaceMobile Completes First Space-Based Voice Call

Given that LEO satellites will enable mobile phone connectivity regardless of ground conditions, Rakuten Mobile and AST SpaceMobile reportedly plan to continue working together to provide connectivity across Japan.

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