Rakuten Mobile secured what appeared to be one of the first publicly announced commercial deals for its virtualised, cloud-native mobile communications platform, with US satellite company Ligado Networks agreeing to use it as the basis for a 5G private network service.

In a memorandum of understanding, the companies said they would begin developing a template for Ligado Networks’ product in the current quarter, using the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP) as a foundation and working with partners to set a timeline for trials.

The companies also pledged to team with enterprise customers to further “advanced use cases” and settle on a technology stack for eventual service launches, ultimately aiming to accelerate deployments of private networks based on open technology.

Doug Smith, Ligado Networks president and CEO, stated the combination of its “know-how and licensed L-Band spectrum” with RCP and open RAN equipment would allow it to “create a novel blueprint for delivering new efficiencies to US companies” looking to deploy private networks.

Rakuten Mobile launched its RCP product in June 2020, and later inked a reseller deal with Tech Mahindra. In September 2020, Telefonica expressed interest in using the platform, but did not make a firm commitment.

Ligado Networks faced continued objections to a plan to deploy private networks and IoT services for the enterprise sector, but the Federal Communications Commission recently ruled the company could proceed with rollouts while it considered a challenge seeking to overturn the approval.