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Rakuten Mobile and NEC Partner to Promote Open RAN in Global Telecom Markets

Rakuten Mobile, Inc. and NEC Corporation announced today the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to promote Open RAN (open radio access networks) in global mobile telecommunications markets.

In Japan, NEC is currently providing 5G radio units (5G RU) for Rakuten Mobile’s fully virtualized cloud-native mobile network. The two companies are also jointly developing Rakuten Mobile’s containerized(1) 5G Stand Alone (SA) core network (5GC)(2). Under the MoU, Rakuten Mobile and NEC will expand upon their domestic collaboration to date to provide 5G and 4G Radios and engineering services for Open RAN systems aligned with O-RAN specifications(3) for global markets, and accelerate the global expansion of the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP).

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Open RAN refers to radio access networks (RAN) where the interfaces and protocols between the RAN components are open and interoperable. This allows operators to select and combine the equipment to suit their needs and deploy networks without legacy vendor lock-in. As 5G services expand and diversify, both Rakuten Mobile and NEC are looking to promote Open RAN standards in the global market in order to further boost network scalability and the operational efficiency made possible by virtualization.

RCP, Rakuten Mobile’s fully virtualized and containerized cloud-native mobile network platform, allows telecom companies and enterprises around the world to deploy virtualized networks at high speed and low cost.

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“Rakuten Mobile has successfully designed, launched and now operates a fully virtualized mobile network. This unique network architecture built on Open RAN standards continues to attract significant interest from operators, enterprises and governments around the world,” commented Tareq Amin, Representative Director, Executive Vice President and CTO of Rakuten Mobile. “With NEC’s excellent level of technical expertise in radio and track record of providing our high quality 5G sub-6 RU, this collaboration will accelerate the global expansion of Rakuten Communications Platform and promote adoption of Open RAN in global markets.”

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“This MoU will empower both NEC and Rakuten Mobile to contribute in an even more comprehensive way to the opening and virtualization of cellular networks around the world,” commented NEC Executive Vice President 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. We hope to continue contributing to the expansion of the Rakuten Communications Platform as it rolls out around the globe.”

By leveraging deep experience in construction and operation of a fully virtualized cloud-native mobile network and providing revolutionary services and expertise in Open RAN, Rakuten Mobile and NEC aim to provide high quality network technologies to customers around the world.

(1) In containers, the application execution environment is separated from other OS processes, allowing applications to be run using less computer resources than a virtualized environment.
(2 ) For more information about the collaborations between Rakuten Mobile and NEC to date, please see the following press releases:
new windowhttps://corp.mobile.rakuten.co.jp/english/news/press/2020/0324_01/
new windowhttps://corp.mobile.rakuten.co.jp/english/news/press/2020/0603_01/
(3) The O-RAN specifications are the Open RAN specifications for open and interoperable RAN defined by the O-RAN ALLIANCE. Rakuten Mobile’s joined the O-RAN ALLIANCE in August 2020, and in November 2020, Tareq Amin, Representative Director, Executive Vice President and CTO of Rakuten Mobile, was appointed as a member of the board of directors of the O-RAN ALLIANCE.

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