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Japan carrier Rakuten Mobile warned over widespread network outage

Rakuten Mobile President Shunsuke Yazawa speaks to reporters at the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry in Tokyo, on Dec. 9, 2022. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Rakuten Mobile Inc. was instructed by the Japanese government on Friday not to repeat the massive disruptions of its mobile phone services and data transmission seen in September.

    Some 110,000 people were affected by the phone service failures and 1.3 million people were hit by the data transmission disruption, caused by a software malfunction in equipment at a data center. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications inspected the data center the following month.

    "We solemnly accept the instruction and will thoroughly follow it on a companywide basis," said Rakuten Mobile President Shunsuke Yazawa.

    The ministry has recognized the Sept. 4 disruption, which lasted more than two hours, as a serious incident and also deems the company's failure to swiftly notify its users and the public problematic.

    "Rakuten Mobile has a major role in providing mobile phone service, which is an important infrastructure supporting people's lives, and we want the company to understand the responsibility it bears," said communications minister Takeaki Matsumoto in a regular press conference.

    The network outage at Rakuten Mobile, a relatively new company in the telecom industry, came on the heels of a series of telecommunication disruptions affecting other carriers.

    In July, KDDI Corp., the operator of "au" brand mobile phone service, suffered a network outage that lasted over 60 hours, affecting more than 30 million people, with users unable to make emergency calls for an extended period.

    Nippon Telegraph and Telephone West Corp. also experienced a massive internet network outage in August.

    The two carriers have been instructed by the ministry to improve their service.

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