Rakuten Mobile signs deal with STC to boost OpenRAN tech

Rakuten Mobile signs deal with STC to boost OpenRAN tech

 

Japanese operator Rakuten Mobile has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Saudi Telecom Company (STC) with the aim of collaborating in the field of innovation and strategic mobile technology.

Under the terms of the deal, the two companies will explore future opportunities to collaborate in various technology domains, including, fully autonomous digital platform serving telecommunication cloud network and OpenRAN deployment options for greenfield and brownfield use cases.

Both operators said they aim to accelerate the delivery of mobile network services through the use of OpenRAN mobile access technology.

“This MoU aims to expand our global partnerships and help diversify our strategic growth. We are confident this MoU will bring tangible results in terms of developing a new advance technology strategy and accelerating the early deployment of novel and sophisticated services,” said Nasser Al Nasser, Group CEO of STC.

“We are very excited about collaborating with STC and sharing our know-how of building new-generation telecommunication infrastructure,” said Mickey Mikitani, chairman and CEO of Rakuten and CEO of Rakuten Mobile. “We believe that our open architecture and advanced OpenRAN technologies will help define a new generation of operators who are ideally positioned to place advanced customer experience and differentiated profitable services at the center of their offering.”

Last month, Rakuten Mobile inked an agreement with Spanish carrier Telefonica to research and conduct lab tests and trials to support OpenRAN architectures, including the role of the AI in the RAN Networks. Under the partnership, both companies will also jointly develop proposals for optimal 5G RAN architecture and OpenRAN models.

Rakuten Mobile launched its commercial mobile operations in April this year, becoming the fourth mobile operator in Japan.  Rakuten offers its mobile services through a cloud-native, software-centric and fully virtualized mobile network.

In September, Rakuten Mobile announced the availability of its commercial 5G service in certain areas across six prefectures of the country.

The service, initially offered via Non-Stand Alone (NSA) 5G architecture, is already available in parts of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Hokkaido, Osaka and Hyogo.

The company’s 5G launch was initially expected for June this year but was postponed due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

During the launch of the firm’s 5G offering, Rakuten Mobile’s President Yoshihisa Yamada said that the operator is expecting the 5G to be available in Japan’s all 47 prefectures by end-March 2021. Yamada also confirmed that Rakuten Mobile expects to launch a Stand-Alone 5G network in the second quarter of 2021.

In June, Rakuten Mobile and NEC Corporation announced that the two companies have reached an agreement to jointly develop the containerized standalone (SA) 5G core network (5GC) to be used in Rakuten Mobile’s fully virtualized cloud native 5G network.

Under the terms of the deal, Rakuten Mobile and NEC said they will develop the containerized SA 5G mobile core to be made available on the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP).

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