Rakuten signs open RAN deals with Fujitsu, NEC

Japan’s Rakuten Mobile announced two separate deals with Fujitsu Limited and NEC where it’s working with the vendors to develop open Radio Access Network (RAN) solutions.

Both Fujitsu and NEC plan to help Rakuten by providing 5G and 4G radios and engineering services for open RAN systems aligned with O-RAN Alliance specifications for the global ecosystem. The goal is to accelerate the global expansion of the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP), which Rakuten is marketing to other operators that want to run their networks in the cloud.

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Under their Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Fujitsu will develop new O-RAN-based 4G and 5G radio units that Rakuten Mobile will integrate into its RCP offering, with an eye toward global expansion.

“As we start introducing Rakuten Communications Platform to telco operators, governments and enterprises around the world, we are seeing strong demand for high-performance, cost-effective and high-quality radios for 4G LTE and 5G New Radio (NR) based on open and virtualized RAN,” said Rakuten Mobile CTO Tareq Amin in a statement. “With Japanese quality and a highly competitive cost structure as major differentiators, our joint efforts with Fujitsu are on track to bring significant incremental value to our customers and partners around the world.”

NEC is looking to use its new MoU with Rakuten to contribute in an even more comprehensive way to opening and virtualizing cellular networks around the world, according to NEC EVP 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,” Kawamura said in a statement. “We hope to continue contributing to the expansion of the Rakuten Communications Platform as it rolls out around the globe.”

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Last month marked the one-year anniversary of Rakuten Mobile’s 4G LTE network launch, which now covers 80% of Japan’s population. As of May 11, the operator had 4.1 million applications in service, slightly up from the 3.9 million announced one month earlier.