Azita Arvani, GM of Rakuten Mobile Americas, explained to the Wireless Industry Association’s Connect (X) conference how the Japanese operator plans to deploy open RAN for other operators through its Symphony business unit, claiming its experience can be employed by others to save time and money.
The executive highlighted the financial benefits of Rakuten’s open RAN platform, claiming the cost of its mmWave base station is now equivalent to a Wi-Fi access point. Rakuten’s custom poles and radio antenna units are 40 per cent less expensive to deploy than traditional rooftop mounts, Arvani said.
The executive then outlined the Rakuten software stack, highlighting the closed loop automation and noting the software enables it to bring new 5G sites online within four minutes.
Arvani said Rakuten can now light 1,300 base stations per week in Japan and has 30,000 currently online.
Arvani described the unified cloud, network functions and intelligent operations layers of the stack as elements already in place and available to third parties through Rakuten Symphony. The digital experience and internet/ecosystem services layers are still in development, she explained.
The goal is to ultimately create a “telco app store”, Arvani noted, echoing an objective expressed by equipment vendors in the open RAN space.
Success in Japan
After launching a greenfield open RAN network in Japan, Rakuten is now commercialising its platform for others, with German operator 1&1 on board as its first customer.
Arvani noted networks metrics company OpenSignal ranked Rakuten ahead of competitors based on network speeds, customer experience and voice application performance.
A partnership with AST Space Mobile has the potential to enable Rakuten to offer 100 per cent geographic coverage in Japan, Arvani added.
Arvani predicted a plan to buy open RAN vendor Altiostar will assure access to dozens of patents and hundreds of developers.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back