Having pursued its vision of a fully-virtualized 5G network over the last 18 months, Rakuten Mobile and NEC Corporation have announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding to promote Open RAN globally, enabling partners outside of Japan to benefit from their expertise in open 5G networks.
In Japan, NEC is currently providing 5G radio units for Rakuten Mobile’s fully-virtualized Open RAN, with the two companies jointly developing Rakuten Mobile’s 5G Stand Alone and core networks.
"Rakuten Mobile has successfully designed, launched and now operates a fully virtualized mobile network. This unique network architecture built on Open RAN standards continues to attract significant interest from operators, enterprises and governments around the world," said Tareq Amin, executive vice president and CTO at Rakuten Mobile. "With NEC’s excellent level of technical expertise in radio and track record of providing our high quality 5G sub-6 RU, this collaboration will accelerate the global expansion of Rakuten Communications Platform and promote adoption of Open RAN in global markets."
Rolling out across the globe
Under the memorandum of understanding, Rakuten Mobile and NEC will provide 5G and 4G Radios and engineering services for Open RAN systems to global partners, which will be built on the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP).
"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 executive vice president, 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."
Given the huge amount of investment required to introduce new 5G services, mobile network operators (MNOs) around the planet are keen to find more affordable ways to deliver their services, and Open RAN, which enables MNOs to use software and hardware from different vendors, rather than being tied into an exclusive partnership, is generating a lot of excitement within the industry. And by using RCP, Rakuten Mobile’s fully virtualized and containerized cloud-native mobile network platform, the companies say that telecom companies and enterprises around the world will be able to deploy virtualized networks at high speed, and low cost.