Rakuten, Intel, Juniper team to simplify open RAN deployments

Rakuten Symphony teamed up with Intel and Juniper to develop a product aimed at easier O-RAN deployment and 4G, 5G densification, with less hardware needed per site.

Dubbed Symware, partners said the “multipurpose edge appliance” combines containerized cell site routing functionality from Juniper and a containerized Distributed Unit using Altiostar software on a single general purpose server platform with Intel technology.

“Removing the obstacles of deploying ORAN in disaggregated production networks is critical for 5G growth,” said Juniper CTO Raj Yavatkar in a statement. “Integrated routing and ORAN in a single platform delivers cost and operational benefits for network operators.”

Along with reducing hardware, and capital and operating spending, Rakuten said the product can accommodate different network set ups while supporting new levels of automation.

On the automation front, Rakuten, Intel and Juniper said the solution is based on the Kubernetes ecosystem for orchestration and networking. It supports zero-touch provisioning, rolling updates, and telemetry and analytics across components.

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“We continue to see the industry shift to take advantage of the many benefits provided by the cloudification of the RAN,” said Dan Rodriguez, Intel corporate VP and general manager of Network Platforms Group. “By utilizing our Next Generation Intel Xeon D Processors and FlexRAN reference software, this collaboration showcases how RAN workloads can be consolidated onto a single server and meet the performance, capacity and cost requirements of 5G RAN deployments.”

The announcement also called out 5G network slicing, a feature that is seen as one way for operators to monetize 5G investments by selling dedicated partitioned “slices” of the network based on user or application-specific service level requirements.

Juniper is bringing a carrier-grade routing stack offered across both the physical and virtual RAN. This enables Symware to support 5G slicing in both the RAN and transport “including slice isolation, slice monitoring and dynamic traffic steering through segment routing.”

The product will be offered through Rakuten Symphony, with expected availability in the first half of 2022.

RELATED: Rakuten creates Symphony, expands RCP ambitions

Rakuten Symphony made its debut this summer as a new go-to-market business unit that houses the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP) elements and other vendor offerings.

Rakuten Mobile made a name for itself deploying the first fully virtualized cloud-native 4G LTE network with its greenfield build in Japan in 2020.  It’s since been working to export learnings from its own cloud-native deployment, creating a blueprint and toolkit alongside a roster of supplier partners and technologies incorporated into RCP.

Rakuten Symphony packages RCP and other elements for telco operators, offered on an a la carte basis or complete stack.  

RELATED: Rakuten Communications Platform wants to conquer the world: Entner

1&1 in Germany signed on as the first flagship customer for Rakuten Symphony, as it looks to build a fourth mobile network in the country with a greenfield build based on open RAN technology.   

“Rakuten Symphony constantly looks to introduce leading-edge innovations to accelerate network transformations,” said Tareq Amin, CEO of Rakuten Symphony, in Tuesday’s announcement. “With our partners, we have developed a cost-performance optimized appliance that simplifies the cell site deployment for 4G, 5G and future generations of mobile technology. Symware provides operators with the ultimate future-proof cell site solution that enables them to flexibly densify their network and accommodate various network topologies at the lowest cost.”