Press release

Rakuten Mobile, the world’s first end-to-end fully virtualized 4G and 5G commercial mobile network, will rapidly expand coverage with plans to deploy Symware™ multipurpose edge appliances across 23,000 new sites in just 10 months.

Earlier this week, Rakuten Symphony announced general availability for its Symware™ next-generation distributed unit (DU) product with plans to deploy 30,000 units across Rakuten Mobile’s network in Japan. The rollout targets installation across 23,000 new sites in just 10 months and will support continued subscriber coverage expansion efforts for the world’s largest open mobile network. Rakuten Mobile expects to reduce data center and associated operational costs by as much as half due to simplified data center installation and increased power efficiency.

Phase 1 was announced in late 2021 in collaboration with Intel – a leader in network and cloud technologies – to build the next-generation distributed unit (NGDU). This device features zero touch provisioning, Multi-RAT Support (radio access technology), and IP65 Ruggedized DU, supporting 4G and 5G radio cell site coverage for mass scale deployment.

In the second phase of the rollout, the Symware device is expected to deliver high cost-efficiency via a zero data center footprint and elimination of associated rent overhead in deployment in Rakuten Mobile’s network infrastructure. Underscoring its ability to deliver in demanding environments at scale, the device will be rapidly deployed across more than 13,000 new 5G sites and 10,000 new 4G sites in Japan.

“We announced our intention to change the industry benchmark for Next Generation Distributed Unit design last year at Mobile World Congress Los Angeles. I am more than happy now to announce the global rollout of the Symware NGDU, redefining speed and total cost of ownership for large-scale network expansions,” said Tareq Amin, Chief Executive Officer of Rakuten Symphony. “The revolutionary hardware design supported by the software-based network and full Symworld operational platform will deliver transformational results for Rakuten Mobile and telecom operators around the world.”

The Symware device is based on the Intel Xeon D processor, a workload optimized system-on-chip built for space and power constrained environments. With built-in AI, security, advanced I/O and ethernet alongside dense compute, it delivers high data throughput for Symware open RAN workloads. In addition, it uses the Intel vRAN Accelerator ACC100 adapter, Intel Ethernet Controller E810, and Intel’s FlexRAN reference software to deliver a robust, performant open RAN solution.

“Communications service providers are transforming their networks worldwide with the move to fully programmable, open platforms to gain increased flexibility and agility,” said Dan Rodriguez, Intel corporate vice president and general manager, Network and Edge Solutions Group. “Our collaboration with Rakuten Symphony has shown the industry how it’s possible to deliver the performance and cost savings for at-scale deployments when you combine software-based platforms with an innovative design, and an as-a-service business model.”

The business goal is to radically change the total cost of ownership through two “as-a-Service” business models.

The Symware™ device is sold as a service with the standard model comprising lifecycle management of hardware components, allowing customers to lifecycle manage customized software choices and operations. Symware™ Plus includes lifecycle management of all software using the Symworld platform for automation.

The Symworld™ platform helps telecom operators scale faster as the cloud sets the pace for speed, innovation, and network expectations. It supports a full range of cloud-native OSS products (Intelligent Operations) that help greenfield and brownfield service providers plan, build, and operate a mobile network at a significantly lower cost than traditional approaches. The platform enables enable zero-touch provisioning at scale, shortening site commissioning times from weeks to minutes for rapid network builds at 40% lower capital cost. Operators are able to run networks at 30% lower operating costs and accelerate new feature introductions by 10-15x. Protection and transparency are assured via security embedded at every layer.