Rakuten Symphony unveiled plans to invest in R&D facilities in the UK, France and Germany, as the software and platform unit of Rakuten Mobile seeks open RAN opportunities in Europe.

The unit had previously identified so-called brownfield markets as an opportunity to expand its reach beyond operators building networks from scratch.

In a press conference today (14 February), Rakuten Symphony CEO and Rakuten Mobile CTO Tareq Amin (pictured) said it was shoring up a commitment “to help Europe through the open RAN transition journey”.

The UK unit will focus on 4G and 5G virtualised RAN software and hardware development, and will work closely with Altiostar Networks.

Its French unit was set up to expand local adoption of its products and services, while in Germany it will manage local projects.

The company’s parent previously scored a deal with fledgling newcomer 1&1 in the country.

Rakuten Symphony also launched Symworld, an open source app store offering operators tools to build and manage networks as part of a move to bring its Rakuten Communications Platform to global markets.

It will initially offer its own services but will open to third-party apps.

The open RAN moves were unveiled as Rakuten Mobile revealed its operating loss increased 54.9 per cent year-on-year during Q4 2021 to JPY118.7 billion ($1 billion) and revenue of JPY65.3 billion, up 47.8 per cent.

Rakuten Symphony began to contribute to its parent’s top-line during the quarter, with the operator also noting traction around customer migration and device sales.

Chairman and CEO Mickey Mikitani (pictured, right) explained it expects network investments to peak during the current quarter and predicted losses would begin to decline from Q2.

It closed 2021 with 4.5 million MNO customers, up 30.4 per cent.

Amin stated Rakuten Symphony is positioned to capture “a fair share” of operators’ spending on commercial 5G networks. He also announced VP of RAN Sharad Sriwastawa would take over as Rakuten Mobile CTO, leaving him clear to focus on Symphony.