Rakuten Mobile announces new flexible plan

Rakuten Mobile has announced a new plan – Rakuten UN-LIMIT VI – which will be available from 1 April 2021.

The new plan will have a simple fee structure that flexibly adjusts in line with customer data use. Charges will be:

  • less than 1Gb of data usage – no charge for first line
  • 1-3Gb of data usage – 980 yen
  • 3-20Gb of data usage – 1,980 yen for the first line, with the monthly rate determined by the amount of data used each month
  • 20Gb+ of data usage – 2,980 yen per month for an unlimited plan.

Customers that have a second line with data usage of less than 3Gb will be charged 980 yen.

As with previous Rakuten UN-LIMIT plans, customers can use unlimited high-speed data in the Rakuten network area, with a monthly allocation of 5Gb of high-speed data for national roaming on partner networks and 2Gb of high-speed data for international roaming in 66 countries and regions. Calls within Japan made through Rakuten’s communication app are free of charge (some numbers are excluded).

Rakuten calculates all data usage to assess which tier a customer fits into, this includes data used in the Rakuten network area, the national roaming partner areas, and any used roaming internationally. In the national roaming area, services are limited to 1Mbit/s if customers exceed their 5Gb allowance. When roaming internationally, customers’ speeds are limited to 128kb/s when they exceed their 2Gb allowance. In both national and international roaming areas customers can continue to use high-speed data at at cost of 500 yen per gigabyte. Customers can bolt on an option for unlimited international calls, including calls made when roaming internationally, using the Rakuten Link app for 980 yen per month.

Omnisperience view

We like the fact that Rakuten is continuing to experiment with its plans to better meet the needs of its customers. This plan is far more flexible than the traditional approach to telecoms plans, meaning it fits more closely to the changing behaviour of customers. This is important as it avoids many billshock issues for customers, such as when they exceed agreed allowances on their contracts and get stung by overage charges. This plan enables them to consume more or less each month and get charged accordingly. Such an approach also addresses the situation where customers have continual unused data allowances at the end of each month because they opted into a much bigger plan at the start of the contracted period to avoid the possibility of overage charges, which is a cause of customer frustration and churn. There might turn out to be a problem with the boundaries between tiers, as a couple of meg can double the fee, but we’ll have to watch and wait and see how that turns out, as we’re sure Rakuten will do.