Ever since the launch of Rakuten Mobile in 2018, Japan’s most disruptive mobile operator has aspired to sell its network solutions to a global audience

To further this goal, the company launched the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP) in October 2020, allowing both greenfield and brownfield operators access to Rakuten Mobile’s Open RAN network design, including tech that encompasses virtualisation, automation, containerisation, and microservices.

Following initial successes of its RCP model, Rakuten took the decision in August last year to create Symphony, a new business unit that combines all Rakuten’s telco products, services, and solutions, spanning both 4G and 5G. 

At the time of the announcement, Rakuten revealed the first major partnership for Symphony, partnering with Germany’s new entrant to the mobile market, 1&1 Drillisch. The deal included Rakuten’s full RCP suit, covering everything from the RAN, core, cloud, and operations.

Now, it seems that Rakuten is ready to take the next step forward in its plan for global Open RAN propagation, announcing that it will spin off its Symphony unit entirely to further open the doors to international partnerships. 

“The business aims to provide a future-proof, cost-effective, communication cloud platform for carriers, businesses and government agencies around the world by consolidating the products and services which are related to cloud-native, OpenRAN-based mobile networks including Rakuten Communications Platform,” read a statement from the company.

The new unit will be headed up by Rakuten’s chief technology officer, Tareq Amin. 

In the last couple of years, Open RAN has been a growing presence on operators’ radars around the world. Posited as a potential solution to reliance on certain ‘high risk’ vendors back in early 2020, the discussions around the technology have evolved enormously, ranging from national technological sovereignty to reduced cost and heightened security. 

By the start of 2021, five of Europe’s largest operators had signed a Memorandum of Understanding pledging to collaborate for the further development of the technology, reiterating this at the end of the year via a commissioned study that urged European policy makers to help develop a continental vendor ecosystem. The report by Analysys Mason suggested that the Open RAN ecosystem could grow as large as €36.1 billion by 2026.

Thus, Rakuten’s decision to further expand efforts to globalise Open RAN seem timely, particularly as it is already finding success in the EMEA region. In fact, earlier this week, Saudi Arabian operator STC said that it had become one of the first operators in the region to deploy carrier aggregation-capable O-RAN mobile infrastructure successfully, doing so in partnership with Rakuten Symphony and Cisco.

Will 2022 be the year of Open RAN? It is surely too soon to tell, but Rakuten will certainly try its best to make it happen. 


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