Singapore newcomer TPG Telecom selected Japan’s fourth operator Rakuten Mobile as its partner to run OpenRAN trials on a new network in the city state, advancing toward a 4G service launch this year.

While the newcomer aims to launch a 4G network during 2020, GM and acting CEO Richard Tan said the trial can help accelerate the adoption of 5G networks with software-defined technology based on open interfaces and community-developed standards running on common hardware.

Australia-based TPG Telecom won a spectrum auction open only to new entrants to the Singapore market in December 2016. It launched a trial network in the city state in 2019, with coverage of 99.7 per cent at end-June.

Rakuten Mobile CTO Tareq Amin noted Singapore’s high fibre density makes it uniquely suited for rapid OpenRAN adoption.

In a statement, the operator said OpenRAN delivers fully programmable RAN capabilities based on general purpose processing platforms and disaggregated software, giving operators more flexibility and a faster pace of innovation.

The company aims to operate the world’s first end-to-end fully virtualised cloud-native network, but is yet to launch a commercial service after delaying a move planned for October 2019.