Rakuten Group has been working closely with Altiostar in Japan to roll out its virtualised RAN network in Japan since 2020

The growth of Rakuten’s relationship with Altiostar Networks clearly reflects the meteoric rise in interest surrounding Open RAN in recent years.

The Group first invested in the US-based virtual RAN (vRAN) tech vendor back in May 2019, investing $114 million in what was a natural marriage between the specialist vendor and a company on the brink of launching their own fully virtualised mobile network in Japan.

Later, in September 2020, following the successful launch of Rakuten Mobile’s 4G and 5G networks, the operator increased its stake in Altiostar, purchasing Tech Mahindra’s 17.5% in the business for $45 million as part of a larger transaction. This move made Rakuten the majority shareholder in the company.

Now, Rakuten has announced that it will acquire the remaining shares in Altiostar, valuing the company at an undisclosed sum greater than $1 billion. 

“We’re entering a new era where mobile network operators can choose how to build and deploy a network by working with the world’s most innovative software companies to create open and interoperable solutions,” said Rakuten Group CEO Mickey Mikitani. “We’re delighted to welcome the Altiostar team to the Rakuten family as we share a common passion for empowering mobile networks through disruptive innovation, offering mobile operators around the world secure, cost-effective and highly agile technology.”

“Open RAN architecture and virtualization are key to building software-centric networks that can scale and adapt to meet an explosion of devices and applications driving service velocity and profits. Becoming a Rakuten Group company will allow us to build on our foundation and accelerate our technology development to help operators to innovate, explore new business models and bring affordable broadband to the masses through web-scale mobile networks,” said Altiostar Networks CEO, Ashraf Dahod, who will remain in his position post-acquisition. 

Altiostar’s suite of Open vRAN network functions will remain available to global operators as part of the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP).


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