Rakuten Mobile reels in Fujitsu, NEC for global push

Rakuten Mobile, Japan's disruptive open RAN and cloud-native player, has signed MoUs with Fujitsu and NEC to try and accelerate "global expansion" of Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP).

RCP is based on Rakuten Mobile's system-integration learnings gleaned from commercial deployment of open RAN and an "end-to-end" virtualized network in Japan. The Japanese operator is keen to evangelize RCP abroad and drum up more revenue through collaboration with other operators.

Let's take NEC first. Rakuten Mobile already has a close relationship with NEC in Japan, supplying as it does the operator's 5G radio units for its "fully virtualized" mobile network. They are also jointly developing a containerized 5G standalone core network.

Under the MoU, however, Rakuten Mobile and NEC are set to expand their domestic collaboration to develop O-RAN-compliant 4G and 5G radios for markets abroad, as well as offer engineering services. The aim is to accelerate RCP expansion into international markets.

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It's a similar story with Fujitsu. Under the MoU, the Japanese supplier will develop new O-RAN based 4G and 5G radio units that Rakuten Mobile will integrate into its RCP. Again, the aim is expansion abroad.

"With Japanese quality and a highly competitive cost structure as major differentiators, our joint efforts with Fujitsu are on track to bring significant incremental value to our customers and partners around the world," enthused Rakuten Mobile CTO Tareq Amin.

It marks a step up in Fujitsu's RCP involvement, which was previously confined to quality assurance, including evaluation tests for interconnection verification in a multi-vendor environment and hardware quality verification tests.

Paying customers

Speaking at a virtual roundtable with members of the media earlier this year, Amin said Rakuten Mobile was working with 15 paying customers when it came to RCP, but he did not divulge any names or the amounts involved.

"A lot of people don't know that the sales already started," he said. "And these are not small customers. Some of them are very, very massive."

Revenues, he said, were initially coming from the OSS layer and network orchestration.

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— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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