NEC and Rakuten pair up to promote open RAN 5G worldwide

NEC and Rakuten pair up to promote open RAN 5G worldwide

Tareq Amin Rakuten.jpg

Rakuten Mobile and its equipment supplier NEC are to work together to promote open RAN networks worldwide.

Rakuten is already operating what it believes is the first 5G cloud-based open radio access networks (open RANs) in Japan, and the two companies now want to spread their expertise globally.

Tareq Amin (pictured), CTO of Rakuten Mobile, said the company “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.”

NEC and Rakuten today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to promote the technology — which is seen as likely to open up the market for mobile radio equipment to more than the established suppliers, Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia and ZTE.

This is just the latest in a series of moves by NEC to re-establish itself as a vendor to the mobile industry. Last year the company’s Kazuhiko Harasaki, Tokyo-based deputy general manager of its global business unit, told Capacity that the company was setting up new lab in London, to develop 5G open systems for a range of markets, “not only UK or European, but for other regions too”.

In December the company said it was working with Japanese incumbent telco NTT — a rival to Rakuten —to compete with US-based internet giants in future wireless and optical networks, and to wrest control away from largely English-speaking companies.

The two said they plan to collaborate on open RAN and photonic networks to improve the performance of today’s wireless and fibre services.

And in February Telefónica UK’s O2, which is in the process of merging with Virgin Media UK, said it had completed a successful open RAN trial on its network with NEC and Altiostar, GigaTera Communications and Supermicro, among others.

Under today’s MoU, Rakuten Mobile and NEC will expand upon their Japanese collaboration to provide 5G and 4G Radios and engineering services for open RAN systems, and accelerate the global expansion of what they’re calling the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP). This is build to specifications from the O-RAN Alliance.

Amin, who was CTO of India’s Reliance Jio before moving to Rakuten, said: “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.”

Rakuten said that RCP is a fully virtualised and containerised cloud-native mobile network platform, allows telecom companies and enterprises around the world to deploy virtualized networks at high speed and low cost.

Atsuo Kawamura, executive VP at NEC, said: “NEC is already providing Rakuten Mobile with BSS/OSS, 5G RU [radio units] and 5G core solutions for its revolutionary fully virtualised cloud-native network. We hope to continue contributing to the expansion of the Rakuten Communications Platform as it rolls out around the globe.”




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