The network will be the first completely Open RAN-based mobile network in Europe

Back in 2019, Germany’s only virtual mobile network operator, 1&1 Drillisch, was notably allocated spectrum in the country’s 5G spectrum auction, signalling its intention to deploy its own mobile network infrastructure for the first time.
Now, the operator has partnered with Japan’s Rakuten to build out a new Open RAN network, becoming the first operator in Europe to rely entirely on the new technology for its mobile network.
Having decided to pursue an Open RAN model for the network, partnering with Rakuten is something of an obvious choice, with the Japanese operator having deployed and launched their own fully virtualised network in Japan last year, initially for 4G before later adding 5G.
“With Rakuten, we have the world’s only OpenRAN expert on our side who really has extensive practical experience with this new technology,” explained 1&1 CEO Ralph Dommermuth. “Rakuten ideally complements our know-how in telecommunications networks, data centres and cloud applications. Together we are building a high-performance mobile network that has extensive automation and agility to fully exploit the potential of 5G." 
“Through complete virtualization and the use of standard hardware, we can flexibly combine the best products. This will make us a manufacturer-independent innovation driver in the German and European mobile market,” he added.
Rakuten will support the project via the Rakuten Communication Platform (RCP), its portfolio of cloud native mobile networking elements. Rakuten will build and operate the network for 1&1, with construction scheduled to begin before the end of the year.
“Rakuten will take over the installation of the active network equipment and will also be responsible for the overall performance of the 1&1 mobile network,” said 1&1 in a statement. “1&1 will have access to the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP) with its access, core, cloud and operational solutions as well as to the Rakuten partner network. In this context, Rakuten will also provide its specially developed orchestration software so that the 1&1 network can be operated in a highly automated manner.”
The network will, naturally, be supported by the data centres and fixed infrastructure of 1&1’s own fibre division, Versatel. 
In related news, earlier this week Rakuten announced their acquisition of Open RAN specialist Altiostar, thus 1&1 will soon have Altiostar technology available to them as part of the RCP.

Can 1&1 Drillisch become a major mobile challenger for Telefonica, Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom in Germany? Find out what the experts think at this year’s live Connected Germany event.
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