Altiostar and Rakuten Mobile, Inc. today announced a number of performance and scalability achievements for the Rakuten Mobile 4G and 5G Open RAN deployments, highlighted with innovation around virtualization, automation and performance.
Rakuten Mobile built and launched its 4G network in record time in April 2020. As of March 2021, the network has 3 million applicants. As of the end of January 2021, the network has more than 11,000 base stations that cover 74.9% of the population.1 Rakuten Mobile’s goal is 96% population coverage by Summer 2021, which is around five years ahead of its own schedule. The network has achieved both high performance (number one in upload speed in market at 16.8Mbps, per OpenSignal), despite having only 1/6th of the spectrum holdings of competing operators in market.
In September 2020, only five months after the initial launch, Rakuten Mobile was the first operator to launch a commercial-scale, cloud-native 5G network, leveraging Altiostar’s open virtualized radio access network (Open vRAN) solution. Because baseband functions are deployed as Virtual Network Functions (VNFs), it has been possible for Rakuten Mobile to automate various operational tasks such as new cell site integration (auto-commissioning), as well as fault detection and automated recovery from failures (self-healing), further minimizing its Opex. As an example, due to the automation of its network, Rakuten Mobile has stated it can provision a new 5G cell site in just four minutes and a 4G site in eight minutes.
The 5G network, leveraging advanced massive MIMO and millimeter wave (mmWave) radios, covers both sub-6 GHz and mmWave frequency bands. Altiostar worked closely with Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., Airspan, and Rakuten Mobile on innovation in mmWave radios based on Qualcomm® 5G RAN platforms, with the disaggregation of hardware and software designed to deliver a much better quality of experience, allowing the network to dynamically reallocate resources on the fly. Altiostar collaborated with NEC and Rakuten Mobile to introduce to the 5G network the sub-6 GHz massive MIMO radios, which were validated as compliant with O-RAN specifications during an O-RAN Alliance Plugfest held in September 2020 in India.
The 5G network has demonstrated impressive performance for end users, with throughput of 1.77 Gbps. This compares favorably to data from a Ookla, which detailed speed test results for Japan in Q3 2020, where the fastest 10% of users realized an average download speed of 719.42 Mbps.
“Rakuten has been a disruptor in the mobile space and our 4G and 5G Open vRAN deployments reflect this strategy,” said Tareq Amin, Representative Director, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Rakuten Mobile. “The performance and stability of the 5G network shows that a cloud-native framework and web-scale architecture can compete with a traditional RAN approach and provide new levels of automation to the network. We will continue to drive the transformation of the mobile industry with a rich and diverse ecosystem with companies including Altiostar, Qualcomm Technologies and NEC.”
“Rakuten has been at the forefront of the Open vRAN movement since it began. The industry is closely watching its every step, and it has been able to demonstrate a high-quality experience for their customers,” said Stéphane Teral, Chief Analyst, LightCounting. “This is validated by the performance metrics of their 5G network and I am excited to see the next steps they take as the network goes national.”
“This is a significant milestone for the Rakuten Mobile and Altiostar partnership towards commercial realization of a high performing, cloud-native 5G RAN architecture,” said Ashraf Dahod, CEO of Altiostar. “The Altiostar container-based solution allows Rakuten Mobile to quickly provision new sites and turn up service for a customer in record time. By leveraging the power of an Open virtualized RAN, Rakuten can transform its network and its business to provide a robust service for the consumer that exceeds that of a traditional operator.”
Altiostar has partnered with Rakuten Mobile to design and deploy at scale the first Open vRAN in the world. Rakuten Mobile has standardized on the Altiostar Open vRAN software for all types of deployment models from small cells to macro to massive MIMO, across 4G and 5G radio access technologies.