Rakuten values open RAN vendor Altiostar at $1bn in takeover deal
Japanese group Rakuten is transforming itself into a vendor as well as an operator with an agreed bid for Altiostar, valuing the vendor at US$1 billion.
The company, which runs Japan’s open, virtualised 4G and 5G service Rakuten Networks, says the combination will “accelerate deployment of software-centric, virtualised services for the mobile industry across the globe”.
Rakuten Group CEO Mickey Mikitani (pictured) said: “We’re entering a new era where mobile network operators can choose how to build and deploy a network by working with the world’s most innovative software companies to create open and interoperable solutions.”
Rakuten has been an investor in Altiostar for two years, when its initial investment needed approval by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Last year Indian services company Tech Mahindra sold its stake in Altiostar to Rakuten for $45 million.
Rakuten CTO Tareq Amin and Rakuten Mobile president Yoshihisa Yamada have been on the Altiostar board since the 2019 investment.
The move indicates that Rakuten is positioning itself at the technological centre of the rapid acceptance of open radio access networks (open RAN or O RAN) in the mobile industry.
Last year it started, in Japan, what it believes is the first 5G cloud-based open radio access networks, and this year it tied up with equipment supplier NEC to promote open RAN networks worldwide.
Two months ago African operator MTN announced that Altiostar would be one of its vendors in a move to open RAN technology.
Mikitani said today: “We’re delighted to welcome the Altiostar team to the Rakuten family as we share a common passion for empowering mobile networks through disruptive innovation, offering mobile operators around the world secure, cost-effective and highly agile technology.”
Ashraf Dahod, CEO of Altiostar Networks, welcomed the move. “Open RAN architecture and virtualisation are key to building software-centric networks that can scale and adapt to meet an explosion of devices and applications driving service velocity and profits,” he said.
“Becoming a Rakuten group company will allow us to build on our foundation and accelerate our technology development to help operators to innovate, explore new business models and bring affordable broadband to the masses through web-scale mobile networks.”
Dahod will continue as CEO of Altiostaar, as well as assume what Rakuten calls a key role in the Rakuten Communications Platform, which the operator describes as “a fully virtualised, cloud-native telco platform which allows customers to easily and quickly build secure and open mobile networks at lower cost”.