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Rakuten adds Robin.io, AT&T tech into Symphony

Just days after reorganizing the leadership of its mobile business under Tareq Amin, Rakuten announced new agreements with both Robin.io and AT&T to further refine its Symphony business.

Broadly, the company's announcements – tied to the ongoing MWC trade show in Barcelona, Spain – are intended to help Japan's Rakuten sell networking software and services to mobile network operators globally.

First up is Rakuten's purchase of Silicon Valley-based cloud technology startup, Robin.io. Rakuten made the purchase through its Rakuten Symphony business. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. However, the move follows the same path that Rakuten took with Altiostar – a vendor it used to build its mobile network in Japan and subsequently acquired in order to flesh out its Symphony strategy.

"Robin.io's cloud capability is proven to be effective for the most demanding workloads in mobile and we believe it will allow Rakuten Symphony to safely accelerate cloud-native transformation for our customers and prepare the industry for the future," Amin said in a release.

(Source: PriceMinister on Flickr CC2.0)
(Source: PriceMinister on Flickr CC2.0)

As noted by FierceWireless, Robin.io was founded roughly seven years ago and counts several dozen employees. Robin.io supplies the Kubernetes software containers for the cloud operations of Rakuten's 5G network in Japan.

Rakuten is now working to sell the software and services it developed for its Japanese network to other mobile network operators internationally. The company calls that business Symphony. It acquired Robin.io as part of its efforts to solidify its Symphony sales effort.

Rakuten's new agreement with AT&T follows a similar line. The Japanese company said it inked a new "collaboration" with AT&T that involves Rakuten integrating AT&T's RANFT network capacity planning platform into Symphony.

Specifically, Rakuten said the transaction "adds a new dimension to Rakuten Symphony's Site Manager and more specifically RAN Commander for capacity planning within the suite of tools." Such tools are often used to determine the correct placing and power levels of cell sites in a mobile network.

Now, as a result of the collaboration between the two companies, Rakuten boasts of AT&T as a customer of Symphony. "AT&T is currently deploying Rakuten Symphony's Site Manager, a solutions suite within the Symworld platform that simplifies the design and build workflows for network rollouts," Rakuten said in a release.

"Our collaboration with Rakuten Symphony helps expand and enhance the transformation of our network as well as across our global industry to build and operate more resilient networks in a new architecture stack with less manual touches," AT&T CTO Andre Fuetsch said in a release.

However, as Rakuten builds its Symphony business, some financial analysts are setting modest expectations. According to the analysts at New Street Research, the relatively small size of the overall open RAN market that Rakuten is targeting with Symphony means that its Symphony business should generate roughly $510 million in annual operating profits.

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

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