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Rakuten counts 15 international customers for communications platform

Japan's Rakuten has sold its Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP) to a total of 15 customers so far, according to the company's mobile networking chief Tareq Amin.

"We have already 15 global customers. A lot of people don't know that the sales already started. And these are not small customers. Some of them are very, very massive," he said this week during a virtual roundtable with members of the media. "I'm really delighted to see that we finally are reaching a stage where possibly in the next quarter or so we have a very large contract about the entire RCP stack."

Amin did not provide any further details on the identity of the company's customers.

Light Reading reported in March 2020 of Rakuten's plans to sell a networking platform internationally. The offering was initially dubbed Rakuten Mobile Platform (RMP), but Rakuten appears to have broadened its focus a few months later when it announced it acquired operational support system (OSS) provider Innoeye for the "Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP)."

Rakuten officially took the wraps off RCP in October 2020 with an announcement that it was "bringing 5G to the word." The business is based in Singapore and headed by Rabih Dabboussi, who previously worked at networking giant Cisco and cybersecurity company DarkMatter, according to his LinkedIn profile, before joining Rakuten in May 2020.

RCP essentially is the platform on which Rakuten is building its 4G and 5G networks in Japan. Amin explained that the offering consists of a number of different, interchangeable pieces including network orchestration, cloud management and artificial intelligence provided by a range of participating suppliers. RCP customers can pick and choose which parts of the platform they wish to use.

RCP essentially positions Rakuten against the likes of Amazon, Google and Microsoft, companies that are also selling cloud-based network management and operational services to network operators globally. Indeed, Microsoft last year acquired Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch Networks in pursuit of that goal.

Moreover, Rakuten's sales of RCP are directly linked to the success of the company's ongoing 4G and 5G network buildouts in Japan. As a result, the company has been quick to stamp out concerns over the performance of its mobile network in Japan, which is both based on RCP and informs the development of the platform.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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