Japanese carrier Rakuten Mobile signed two different agreements with compatriot companies Fujitsu and NEC to carry out joint efforts to develop and promote Open RAN solutions for the global market.
Rakuten Mobile and Fujitsu said they will collaborate to jointly develop 4G and 5G Open RAN solutions. Fujitsu will develop new O-RAN-based 4G and 5G radio units that Rakuten Mobile will integrate into its Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP) offering, with the aim of expanding into the global market.
“As we start introducing Rakuten Communications Platform to telco operators, governments and enterprises around the world, we are seeing strong demand for high-performance, cost-effective and high-quality radios for 4G LTE and 5G New Radio (NR) based on open and virtualized RAN,” said Tareq Amin, EVP and CTO of Rakuten Mobile.
The companies noted that the MoU will allow them to define joint global go-to-market plans to address the current and future needs of 4G and 5G Open RAN customers around the world.
Fujitsu is already providing services for Rakuten Mobile’s mobile network in Japan, including evaluation tests for interconnection verification in a multi-vendor environment and hardware quality verification tests.
Rakuten also announced a MoU with Japanese company NEC through which both companies aim to promote Open RAN technology globally.
In Japan, NEC is currently providing 5G radio units for Rakuten Mobile’s virtualized mobile network. The two companies are also jointly developing Rakuten Mobile’s containerized 5G Stand Alone (SA) core network (5GC). Under the MoU, Rakuten Mobile and NEC will expand their domestic collaboration to provide 5G and 4G Radios and engineering services for Open RAN systems aligned with O-RAN specifications for global markets, and accelerate the global expansion of the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP).
RCP is aimed at offering solutions and services for the deployment of virtualized networks at speed and low cost by telecom companies, enterprises and governments around the world
Rakuten Mobile and NEC are looking to promote Open RAN standards in the global market.
“This MoU will empower both NEC and Rakuten Mobile to contribute in an even more comprehensive way to the opening and virtualization of cellular networks around the world,” said NEC’s EVP Atsuo Kawamura. “NEC is already providing Rakuten Mobile with BSS/OSS, 5G RU and 5G core solutions for its revolutionary fully virtualized cloud native network. We hope to continue contributing to the expansion of the Rakuten Communications Platform as it rolls out around the globe.”
Last week, Rakuten Mobile said its 4G network already reaches 80% of the country’s population, with plans to reach 96% this summer.
In a conference call with investors, Rakuten Mobile’s President Yoshihisa Yamada said that the company has already reached limited 5G services in all prefectures as of the end of March.
In September 2020, Rakuten Mobile launched 5G services in parts of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Hokkaido, Osaka and Hyogo. The service is being initially offered via Non-Stand Alone (NSA) 5G architecture.
Yamada had previously said that Rakuten Mobile expected to launch a Stand-Alone 5G network in the second quarter of 2021. The carrier currently operates nearly 1,000 5G base stations across Japan.
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