Japanese operator Rakuten Mobile and fellow compatriot NEC announced that they formed a partnership to build what claims to be the first open 5R architecture in the world in Japan.
NEC has been selected to be the network equipment provider for Rakuten Mobile’s new 5G network in the Asian nation.
Through the partnership, Rakuten and NEC will jointly develop a massive 3.7GHz MEG 5G antenna radio unit, which will be manufactured by NEC at its facilities in Japan.
Currently, Rakuten Mobile is building a fully virtualized mobile network, from end to end, in the cloud for the provision of 5G technology in Japan. Rakuten Mobile Network, which aims to launch 5G commercial services in June 2020, has already received approval of its Special Plan for Deployment of Base Station by the Japanese government and aims to launch its first services as a mobile network operator in October 2019 The Japanese company aims to acquire at least 15 million subscribers in an initial phase of the mobile deployment.
Rakuten and NEC / Netcracker are already working together on an end-to-end BSS / OSS solution to support the launch of the mobile network and subsequent operations. The expansion of the partnership with NEC to include 5G network equipment is further based on Rakuten’s vision of hardware and software unbundling and the true virtualization of end-to-end mobile networks, especially in radio access, according to the Japanese telecommunications company.
“We are very excited to partner with a network technology leader such as NEC in building the world’s first 5G open RAN architecture here in Japan,” said Tareq Amin, CTO of Rakuten Mobile. “NEC’s technology and experience will allow us not only to create a highly secure and high-quality 5G network, but to design and produce antennas in the local market, we hope to contribute to the development of the Japanese telecommunications industry and economy.”
“In the future, NEC aims to drive the global expansion of the virtualized network architecture with Rakuten Mobile,” said Atsuo Kawamura, executive vice president and president of the Network Services Business Unit at NEC.
Last month, the Japanese government approved the plans of the country’s four mobile operators to build 5G wireless networks with an investment programmed to reach JPY 1.6 trillion ($ 14.4 billion) in the next five years.
The requests submitted by NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, SoftBank and Rakuten were approved by the Ministry of Communications after determining that the applications of the companies fulfilled the conditions of the 5G spectrum allocation.
NTT DoCoMo is planning the biggest expense, with the objective of investing at least JPY 795 billion in the deployment of 5G networks during this period. KDDI announced investments of JPY 466 billion, while SoftBank and Rakuten point to investments of JPY 206 billion and JPY 194 billion, respectively.
The conditions for the allocation of the 5G spectrum included commitments to offer services in each prefecture of the nation within two years, and establish base stations of 5G in at least half of the country within five years.
NTT DoCoMo and KDDI aim to cover more than 90% of the country’s population with 5G at the end of the five-year period, while SoftBank aims for 64% coverage and Rakuten aims for 56%.